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BlueGrace 2017 National Conference | Recap

This year, BlueGrace Logistics held their National Conference at the beautiful SandPearl resort in Clearwater Beach, FL. To no surprise, the conference was jam packed with fantastic speakers including Don Hutson, Alex Sheen and Brian Holloway. Everyone enjoyed learning experiences, lunches and a reception back at headquarters. This was BlueGrace’s 7th installment and biggest conference yet with over 250 people in attendance. Everyone joined together Sunday night on the Gulf Lawn at the SandPearl resort for a welcome mixer down by the beach. Cocktails and appetizers were served while the festivities began and BlueGrace kicked off the 2017 National Conference.

Monday | Day 1

Monday morning started with an official message from President and CEO of BlueGrace, Bobby Harris. After talking about the amazing venue and beautiful Clearwater, FL beaches, he discussed the current status of BlueGrace, it’s business and employees. It has been an exciting year at BlueGrace with the opening of our 11 Branch and Regional locations. 2017 brought the complete redesign of our Riverview, FL headquarters and many of the Branch locations across the US did the same. Data was shared with the team about what we accomplished in our Freight, Truckload and Enterprise departments and what effect future trends will have on us in 2018 and beyond. Bobby left the team with a new found excitement for the year to come and with new tools and data to help accomplish upcoming goals.

Featured Speaker| Day 1

Following Harris’ kickoff, motivational speaker Alex Sheen captured everyone’s attention with his presentation. Tears were shed and sighs were heard as Alex told the story of his because I said I would foundation. His foundation is an international social movement and nonprofit dedicated to the betterment of humanity through promises made and kept. Sparked by the loss of his father, Alex began sending promise cards to anyone who requested them at no cost. Since his father’s passing on September 4th, 2012, because I said I would has sent over 8.42M promise cards to over 150 countries. Alex’s commitment to the betterment of humanity has inspired millions around the world. The story of his promises have been shared virally throughout social media and international news.

The BlueGrace team left this presentation with a renewed vision to stick to your promises, whether it’s for a family member or a customer. The importance of your word can be the strongest tool you have to build lasting relationships and to help your fellow man. We want to thank Alex for his moving and poignant presentation and we will do what we can to put his vision into practice!

Featured Speaker| Day 1

After a short intermission, Don Hutson “The One Minute Negotiator” taught everyone about his successful career in speaking, management and sales. Don is a #1 salesperson in a national training organization, and has earned the “Master of Influence” Award, as well as “Philanthropist of the Year”.

Don spent 2 sessions, one for our general group and one specifically for the sales team. He discussed the importance of selling value to our customers. In an industry so focused on low pricing, both the customer and BlueGrace can lose sight of the more valuable items in a business relationship. Items such as service, response times and communication can increase the relationship to one built on loyalty, not just price. The BlueGrace staff went away with a solid set of tools to increase their interactions and understanding of their current and future customers.

Breakout Sessions| Day 1

As the first day continued, it was time for breakout sessions from select BlueGrace Leadership. Mark Ford, COO Transportation started with his analysis of the truckload and carrier marketplace. He discussed the massive growth of the Truckload division at BlueGrace during 2017 and what the future holds for the division. The data provided to the team gave a us a clear trajectory for the upcoming year and a clear understanding of where BlueGrace is positioned in the 3PL industry as a whole.

The next presentation was by Andy Burke, V.P. Strategic Ventures and Shawn Leonard, Expedite Team Lead about the importance of Expedited Freight in the coming year.The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate is going to put a serious squeeze on many supply chains with stricter hours of service regulations going into effect. While these are meant to increase the safety and wellbeing of the driver, many are concerned about the interruptions this mandate will cause to scheduled delivery times. Andy and Shawn discussed how BlueGrace has been serving customers with our access to a national fleet of non-dock high sprinter van, small/ large straight trucks with lift gates and pallet jacks for inside pick-ups and deliveries.

The final break out was with Jason Lockard, Sr. Vice President, Enterprise. The presentation discussed the continued success of our large client interactions and the services we provide to them. From our SAP and NetSuite integrations of our BlueShip platform to our Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), advanced business intelligence & continuous performance improvements, our enterprise team continues to help simplify the freight for our larger clients.

Featured Presenter| Day 1

Returning for his second year, featured presenter and CEO of YRC Worldwide, James Welch concluded the evening with a fantastic presentation about YRC Worldwide both past and future. As one of our valued carriers, James was able to give a very unique look into how YRC and BlueGrace as similar in many ways, especially when it comes to growth and employee retention.

Monday Night Festivities| 3PLTLC RECEPTION

After a full day of knowledge, it was time to unwind a little!

After a full day of knowledge, it was time to unwind a little! Transportation was provided and all were bussed back to headquarters for a BlueGrace style reception. Over 15 carriers set up tables, handing out swag to everyone and food was provided by DATZ catering.  The menu consisted of a taco bar, the most amazing shrimp and grits, fried Mac N Cheese bites and an array of munchies.

“DATZ is always fantastic and a huge hit here at BlueGrace, we were excited to have them cater again!” said Selyna Goldklang, marketing assistant at BlueGrace.

More familiar faces joined the event this time around after a huge success at BG OPEN HOUSE. DJ Papi was back again to get the crowd pumped up and keep the party going.

“I have never had a cookie that tastes this good!”

Sarah Sweeney, Manager of Credit and Billing at BG and former pastry chef at Jackson’s and other local bakeries, wowed everyone again with her delicious sweet treats.

“I have never had a cookie that tastes this good!”, one guest raved as he bit into one of Sweeney’s famous blue crinkle cookie.

The entire reception was a huge hit and was a great end to the first day of the 2017 conference.

Tuesday | Day 2

After the Monday night reception, everyone was bussed back to the SandPearl resort to get a good night’s sleep and get ready for another day full of speakers and presenters.

Featured Presenters| Day 2 | Dave Ross

After the morning presentations, it was time for a returning presenter, Dave Ross, Managing Director of Global Transportation and Logistics at Stifel Nicolaus. As one of the top financial analysts in the logistics industry, David was picked #1 by the Wall Street Journal’s Best on the Street Analysts Survey in the industrial transportation industry. Ross was able to provide an industry updates on the status of the trucking and freight industry. As always , David Ross provided incredibly useful data for both our employees and their customers alike.

Featured Presenters| Day 2 |The Ritz Carlton Leadership Center

When you look to increase customer loyalty and develop new ways to support customers, the best way to do it is to follow the best. Anyone who has stayed at a Ritz-Carlton knows that customer service is not only how they fill hotel rooms, but it is taken so seriously that they are constantly rated number #1 amongst all hotel chains. The BlueGrace team was very fortunate to be able to listen and participate in an amazing presentation by the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center. In today’s increasingly competitive global market, consistently exceptional service and customer experience are what create and sustain brand loyalty. For nearly two decades, The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center has leveraged the systems and processes of the Ritz-Carlton brand to deliver award-winning services that have allowed thousands of clients to improve customer and employee engagement, innovate their culture and differentiate themselves. The team was able to take away new and exciting ways to increase customer happiness as well as employee enjoyment using the tactics provided by the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center.

Breakout Sessions| Day 2

For the second round of breakout session we focused on Customer Support and Human Resources. Michael Medlin, Vice President of Customer Support was first with his discussion of the BlueGrace customer and what they want from our support and sales staff. Using data collected during 2017 we were able to help breakdown what our customers want most from us and how to provide it to them. The presentation helped the whole team better understand why BlueGrace is different from other 3PLs and how to keep moving forward with listening posts for all types of customers.

The next Human Resources presentation was from Mercedes Essmann, Director of Corporate Recruiting and was targeted to interviewing and hiring skills. Mercedes discussed how hiring the right people and keeping them engaged is the most important job for all of leadership at BlueGrace. It was amazing how the BlueGrace hiring and employment standards mirrored the Ritz-Carlton methodologies. We found between the 2 presentations, we were certainly on a successful path for growth and employee happiness in 2018.

The final presentation was from Adam Blankenship, Chief Commercial Officer & Executive V.P. and was focused on how as a company and individuals we could simplify our work. As Core Value #2, Simplify, BlueGrace is familiar with looking for ways to simplify not only our work but how our customers approach their business as well. This valuable time brought us together in small collaborative groups to discuss and document items we will work towards in 2018.

Keynote Speaker| Day 2

Day 2’s  keynote speaker was America’s #1 most requested motivational speaker, Brian Holloway. He is an international motivational speaker and renowned corporate trainer, mobilizing companies and organizations in search of peak productivity, helping them achieve new levels of excellence. He understands how to transform thinking within organizations and challenge the competitive spirit of diverse work teams. In 1995, as a forward-thinking expert in new digital technology, Holloway crafted the first online digital platform with ABC Sports, generating 3,000,000 views in the first 48 hours; an innovation that changed the sports marketing world forever. Brian used his platform to help motivate and excite the BlueGrace team. Through stories and past accomplishments in the NFL and business world, Brian delivered concepts that are easy to take back and utilize after the conference.

Tuesday Night Festivities| Gala Dinner

With conference being concluded, it was time for everyone to enjoy a nice dinner at the Island Way Grill, located down the road from the Sandpearl Resort. BlueGrace’s employees and guests all enjoyed local seafood and an island vibe while celebrating another successful year!

Event Sponsors

We would like to thank all of our carrier and vendor sponsors for their incredible participation in this years event. Below is a listing of the sponsors for the event and we look forward to working with all of you next year.

 

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E-commerce Returns Are A Major Challenge To Retailers

CNBC called returns a $260 billion “ticking time bomb,” in terms of the billions that retailers face each year handling unwanted, used or damaged goods. That’s a dramatic shift away from brick-and-mortar era when customers did most of the legwork, and employees could process the transactions in less than a minute.

E-commerce has flipped the paradigm and with giants like Amazon.com and Walmart.com transforming online retail into a virtual changing room – customers are growing more comfortable simply returning clothes that they don’t like, or that don’t fit. According to the Reverse Logistics Association, the average return rate on in-store purchases is about 8 percent. For e-commerce, the rate jumps to between 25 and 40 percent.

Managing that surge in two-way traffic can be a nightmare for smaller businesses

This time around, managing those shipments and paying for them falls onto the shoulders of retailers. That’s easy enough for established e-commerce companies, thanks to their extensive and sophisticated logistics operations, but managing that surge in two-way traffic can be a nightmare for smaller businesses, especially ones that are just now venturing into the realm of e-commerce.

Some Companies Are Looking Askance At Those Costs

In 2016, research from Barclaycard found that six in ten retailers were negatively affected by the growing costs of people returning items that they bought online. Online-only businesses were hit the hardest, with 31 percent telling Barclaycard that managing returns was hurting their profit margins.

Some businesses are even raising prices to cover the costs of returns, but that’s not a long-term strategy for success

Some businesses are even raising prices to cover the costs of returns, but that’s not a long-term strategy for success. Other businesses are getting out of online retail altogether, turned off by the volume of returns. That’s because on an individual level, it is incredibly hard to compete with the logistics outlays of major online retailers.

What Changed?

Amazon started the trend, turning its platform an easy-return zone. That means no questions asked returns, inducing buyers to add products to their shopping carts that they wouldn’t purchase with a no-refunds policy. That’s translated into more sales, but it’s created a headache for companies that operate in the Seattle retailer’s shadow because now, consumers expect the same thing from other retailers.

This trend is especially pronounced in fashion, where customers deliberately order far more items than they pay for, but its spread throughout the market.

Clicking That “buy” Button Sets Off A Mind-boggling Chain Of Logistics Transactions

The process of e-commerce tends to work best as a one-way street, with automated systems built to speed products to consumers as quick and cheap as possible. But e-commerce has given its customers a stake in the supply chain process, and today, they demand the same speed to reverse the process. Customers want that resolution and refund, fast.

A well-built and highly-transparent return management process is critical for two reasons. It reduces costs, allowing companies to grow margins on their online sales, and just as importantly, it keeps customers engaged and happy.

Keeping them informed and happy is critical to generating return business.

Until the return is processed, the customer is out the cost of their purchase, and the company is out the cost of transporting and processing the return. Nobody’s winning in that scenario, so the sooner the retailer can process the return, the better. And while that’s going on, the customer has a right to know where their product is, and when it’s going to be processed. It’s their money after all. Keeping them informed and happy is critical to generating return business.

To avoid tying up resources in a bloated logistics operation, companies need to revisit their approach to customer support and returns

Simply put, it’s relatively easy to sell goods online. There are scores of solutions for smaller companies, and larger ones have their own logistics operations. But far fewer companies can efficiently handle those pesky returns, despite the fact that they are an increasing part of online retail these days. To avoid tying up resources in a bloated logistics operation, companies need to revisit their approach to customer support and returns, and provide full transparency throughout the whole returns and claims process, to ensure high customer satisfaction rating.

Streamlining the Process

It’s important to understand and analyze returns to the granular level, leveraging that data to streamline future returns and ultimately, make sales more profitable.

The logistics experts at BlueGrace review historical shipping data to increase profit, cut labor costs, and keep the online customers loyal to brands by streamlining both the buying and returns process that underpins e-commerce in 2017. It’s important to understand and analyze returns to the granular level, leveraging that data to streamline future returns and ultimately, make sales more profitable. BlueGrace Logistics offers complete, customized transportation management solutions that provide clients with the bandwidth to create transparency, operate efficiently, and drive direct cost reductions. For more information on how we can help you analyze your current freight issues, feel free to contact us using the form below:

 

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Cost or Asset: The Need for Talent in the Supply Chain 

When it comes to the supply chain, efficiency is the name of the game. The smoother the interaction between the links, from start to finish, the more profitable everyone is along the line. Companies have been furiously analyzing every facet of the chain, from transportation routes to in-house technology and processes in terms of the financial efficiency. In short, if it can give an advantage, improve the system, or help to cut down operating costs in any way, it’s typically touted as a good thing.  But when it comes to investing in that efficiency, where is the best place to hedge your bets? Is it in technology? A consulting firm? While all of these are important, is any one of them hiding the real key to success.

The Un-Correlated

Given the many different assets a company could hitch their hopes on, it would seem like one would rise above the rest, right? If nothing else, given the size and scope of the transportation industry, there would at least be a trend towards one process over the other. While it makes perfect logical sense, the truth of the matter is, there really isn’t a direct correlation between investment and success in the industry.

“Despite all the ads at airports and pretty PowerPoints by consultants, we cannot find support for the claims of ‘Best Run Companies Use Technology X’ or ‘Manufacturing Companies Using Consulting Services With Company Y Have Better Results.’  …or a single instance of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) drives better results,” says Lora Cecere, the founder of Supply Chain Insights.

Companies think that they are managing costs and inventory better through technology investments, but they are not.

“Across the industry, we find that companies think that they are managing costs and inventory better through technology investments, but they are not. Through graphing the financial metrics, we find that 90% of companies are stuck at the intersection of operating margin and inventory turns. With rising complexity, they are unable to make improvements in a balanced scorecard,” she added.

Talent Makes the Difference

When it comes to controlling costs, the only constant for improvement is the investment in supply chain talent. According to the survey taken by Supply Chain Insights, it was the companies who could manage their talent better than their peer groups that gained the cost advantage. This played out in three different metrics: Operating Margin, Profit Margin, and EBITDA as a percentage of Quarterly growth. In all three of these metrics, it was proper talent management that proved to be the most effective.

So what are these companies with better talent management doing that their peers aren’t?

So what are these companies with better talent management doing that their peers aren’t? There are six aspects or gaps in particular that these companies are focusing on.

“Belief in the company, appreciation for work, the need to be a part of a talented team, admiration for leadership, training and professional development and flexible work schedules. Empowered workers make a difference. With the flurry of M&A, industry consolidation, outsourcing, and downsizing, the gaps for North American manufacturers are increasing,” says Cecere.

 Provide a job where your employees feel appreciated, and are given the tools they need to not only succeed, but grow, and you’ll have a more dedicated workforce.

Provide a job where your employees feel appreciated, and are given the tools they need to not only succeed, but grow, and you’ll have a more dedicated workforce.

“Most companies have an endless cycle of cost-cutting. The cost-cutting is more severe in the back office than the front office teams of sales and marketing. Companies are often so busy pinching pennies that they miss the greater opportunity. With slowing growth, as companies end the year, many teams face draconian cost-cutting efforts. When faced with these choices, just remember that empowered employees drive a competitive advantage. Our take? Talent matters,” Cecere adds.

The Reality of the Human Asset

Human talent will invariably become more valuable than any physical asset, including technology.

Investing in talent is about much more than merely cutting costs down the road. Human talent will invariably become more valuable than any physical asset, including technology. A study conducted by Korn Ferry and the Centre for Economic and Business Research, a British economic consultancy shows just how valuable people are to any organization.

“The study found that globally, human talent—people, labor, knowledge—will be worth as much as $1.2 quadrillion over the next five years whereas physical capital— inventory, real estate and technology—will be worth an estimated $521 trillion, showing human talent, intelligence and capital is far more valuable than physical capital,” the  22nd Annual Third-Party Logistics Study reports.

“Human talent is also the greatest value creator available to organizations. For every $1 invested in human talent, $11.39 is added to GDP, proving that investing in people can generate value for the organization over time that significantly exceeds initial financial outlay.”

While automation and new technology might replace some facets of the industry, even truck drivers, there will always be a need to have highly skilled professionals on the roster.

When you consider the rapidly evolving nature of the industry, it’s easy to see just how vital talent is to any company. While automation and new technology might replace some facets of the industry, even truck drivers, there will always be a need to have highly skilled professionals on the roster. Providing them with the right technology and opportunities to grow will not only enable them to sharpen their skills but also increase their value and subsequently the value of your business.

Your Supply Chain Talent Is Readily Available Here

There is no need for companies to search for more supply chain talent. BlueGrace has 100s of talented people with the skillsets to help improve or develop your supply chain. Imagine that you had 3 more people working on optimizing your freight for each single employee you have in-house. That is the value the team at BlueGrace offers. Let us monitor your costs, communicate with the carriers and lower your overall freight spend year over year. Contact us at 800.MYSHIPPING to talk with an expert today or fill out the form below.

Are You Part Of The Available Supply Chain Talent?

Are you part of the supply chain talent pool? Are you eager to work with a company that helps simplify businesses across the USA? Do you feel a sense of accomplishment when you can cut costs for a customer? If so CLICK HERE to see all the positions available throughout the country at BlueGrace. We are constantly awarded a best place to work and love to see our employees succeed!

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Urban Density, Changes in Technology and Last Mile Delivery: What Can Cities Do?

 

With the rise of e-commerce and technological improvements in transportation, like autonomous vehicles and increasing urban density, we are witnessing a historic transformation in our cities. Future trends in freight movement is a “hot topic” in policy and supply chain circles.

With so many changes ahead,  a key question emerges: Can cities cope?

Daimler recently made headlines with the launch of its “all-electric Fuso ecanter truck” in New York City. The vehicle will be rolled out in other US, European and Japanese cities in the next two years, with UPS as the first commercial partner with the truck. Toyota released a hydrogen-fuelled semi-trailer that currently hauls cargo between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach without producing tailpipe emissions. This pilot is part of a longer-range plan by the Port of LA to reduce emissions. Urban planners in Dallas are examining the possibilities for the “hyperloop” in their city, “a futuristic mode of travel that would use levitating pods to shuttle people and goods across hundreds of miles in minutes.” With so many changes ahead,  a key question emerges: Can cities cope? What can cities do to stay on top of change?

Here are five “takeaways” on the topic.

1.   Understanding the Nature of Change is Key

Many predict that the U.S. economy will double in size over the next 30 years. The nation’s population is expected to rise from 326 million in 2017 to 390 million in 2045. More and more, Americans will live in congested urban or suburban sprawls called “megaregions.” Less than 10% of the country’s population will live in rural areas by 2040. This is a stark contrast to the 16% of Americans who lived in the countryside in 2010 and 23% in 1980.

This trend means more “everything”.

The surge in population and economic growth brings with it escalating freight activity. Freight movement across all modes are projected to grow by approximately 42 percent by 2040.This trend means more “everything”. More pressure on roads and transit lines by commuters, more parcels delivered, particularly with the meteoric rise of e-commerce.

One special concern is “the last mile.” The last mile is the final step in the delivery process. The last leg of the delivery process is when an item (or person) moves from distribution facility (or transit point) to end user (home). The length of the distance can vary from a couple of city blocks to 100 miles. This video from the Ryerson City Building Institute clearly shows the effects of the “last mile” on commuters – in this case, in the Greater Toronto Area.

Some of the challenges involved with the last mile are:

  • increased traffic congestion and traffic accidents
  • Noise, intrusion, the loss of open spaces to transport infrastructure projects
  • Environmental and social (public health) impact from local pollutant emissions
  • Illegal parking and resting, idling vehicles
  • Problems experienced by vehicle operators when operating in urban areas
  • Parking and loading/unloading problems including finding road space for unloading; fines, and handling
  • Parcel Theft

2. Cities Must Take Notice

Cities have long been concerned with capacity thresholds for commuting and predicting traffic flow. The new topic of “last mile” in the supply chain must now receive greater notice. We are moving away from discussion on “smart commuting” alone. While still important, traditional topics like carpooling and promoting public transit are giving way to issues such as digitalization and automation (think ride-hailing and autonomous shuttles).

3. Business Concerns Must Factor Into Urban Logistics (alongside Sustainability and Livability Goals)

Furthermore, it must be recognized that economic activity in urban areas depends on the movement and delivery of goods through freight carriers. City and traffic planners must be made aware that urban settings can be inhospitable places for freight deliverers. There must be more public and private sector coordination in freight planning. “Cities can shape markets to focus private sector attention and invest on the needs of cities and the people who live in them by mobilizing infrastructure, talent, and other assets to support the right kinds of AV-based solutions,” was one of the conclusions in “Taming the Autonomous Vehicle: A Primer for Cities (Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Aspen Institute) .

Business goals must be incorporated into the dialogue alongside the goals of community sustainability and livability

How freight distribution processes can be integrated into metropolitan transport, land use, and infrastructure planning is a balancing act.  Business goals must be incorporated into the dialogue alongside the goals of community sustainability and livability. An efficient and future-forward freight system will support and attract new industry for the respective area.

4. A Variety of Solutions Will Likely Be the Answer

Some of the most popular solutions include advances in technology. Transportation technology growth is very exciting, much of it spurred by seeking solutions to urban density, commuting and freight patterns.  Other solutions are more “old-fashioned” or even a return to basics. Mixing traditional and emerging technologies is the way ahead:

  • Use of electric vehicles (EV) –“sustainable mobility”
  • Autonomous vehicles and drones
  • Human-powered delivery vehicles – Cargo-bikes, pedal trucks, and pushcarts
  • Amazon lockers in commercial venues (drop-off points)
  • Vehicle access restrictions based on time and/or size/weight /emission factor/fuel type of vehicle and bus lanes
  • Curbside pickups
  • Load consolidation or co-loading
  • Truck platooning
  • Night-time deliveries, relying on “quiet equipment” and driver training
  • “On-Road Integrated Optimisation and Navigation,” or route optimization, such as introduced by UPS as a big data solution to analyze parcel operators’ daily multi-stops
  • Innovative 3PL solutions like BlueGrace’s proprietary technology, “designed to put the power of easy supply chain management and optimization back in your hands”.

A BlueGrace Case Study In Action

Recently, an e-commerce furniture business in Portland, Oregon found it had outgrown its 3PL’s manual logistic capacity, due to heavy e-commerce volumes. When this company looked to BlueGrace for ways to improve its supply chain, it was discovered that they would benefit from opening another warehouse in the Northeastern area of the US. An alternative distribution solution lowered freight costs and decreased transit days.

For the last mile to be facilitated, there must be easier access to customers and shorter distance between the hub and home.

The idea of re-examining distribution is part of a larger process of change. For instance Amazon, FedEx and UPS are creating/investing in nationwide networks of distribution and fulfillment centers. “Warehouses like these are becoming a way of life for many urbanites,” reports the Wall Street Journal. This trend is already bringing new life to formerly “sleepy towns” like Tracy, California and Kenosha, Wisconsin. For the last mile to be facilitated, there must be easier access to customers and shorter distance between the hub and home.

Make your Last Mile work. Talk with a BlueGrace Logistics expert today!

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Saving Lives Through The Power Of Giving

At BlueGrace Logistics, our number one Core Value is Be Caring Of All Others. Every six weeks, we invite One Blood to come out to our Tampa office where our employees are able to take some time out of their day to go out and donate.

The Benefits of Donating

Not only do the people who are receiving blood transfusions benefit from the donation, but there are also some health benefits donors receive as well. Each time you donate you’ll receive a free wellness checkup which includes blood pressure, pulse, temperature, iron count and cholesterol screening. Studies have also shown that giving blood regularly can help keep your iron levels balanced, can result in fewer arterial blockages and giving at least three times a year may reduce the risk of heart attack.

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. is in need of blood.

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. is in need of blood. Once you complete your donation and your pint of blood is tested and marked as safe to use, the blood will be transfused within 48-72 hours. Many people think that accident and trauma victims are the patients who need blood transfusions most, but patients being treated for cancer, undergoing orthopedic surgeries, cardiovascular surgeries or being treated for inherited blood disorders are actually where blood is most needed.

Be Caring Of All Others

According to One Blood, over 37% of the population is eligible to donate blood, yet only 5% actually do. As of 2016, BlueGrace has donated over 130 units of blood. With each unit of blood, up to three lives can be saved. That is almost 400 patients that could benefit from the lifesaving efforts of BlueGrace employees! Mike Sumnick, VP of Operations at BlueGrace and the coordinator of the blood drives states, “We pursue outrageous goals here at BlueGrace, and every time we host a blood drive, we will strive to help save even more lives.”

To find a donation center near you, please visit https://www.oneblood.org/donate-now/

 

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How a 3PL Can Benefit Your Business During Disastrous Times

Running your Supply Chain can be stressful, especially in times where unforeseen circumstances arise. When working with a 3PL such as BlueGrace during a logistics service disaster, we are able to offer solutions that many businesses don’t have access to. During an emergency, having a 3PL who you trust, with the full tool set of carriers, technology, people and solutions is crucial. This special set of tools became very useful for one of our accounts during Hurricane Irma.

Preparing for an impact

The packaging solution company had no time frame of how long they could be down

On September 8th , just two days before Hurricane Irma was forecasted to come right through the Tampa Bay Area, our customer requested a seemingly near impossible move. The packaging solution company had no time frame of how long they could be down, since the impact from the storm lie ahead. Because of this, they needed 50 Less Than Truckload (LTL) pallets moved from their location to a safer location until the storm passed. This was a normal LTL request to move from Tampa to Atlanta, but with Irma bearing down and freight embargoes already begun, the capacity was very low in or out of the state of Florida.

Embracing Chaos

With all LTL carriers shut down in preparation for the storm, it was now up to BlueGrace to find a solution to get the pallets out of their warehouse. Our Customer Support and Transportation team worked closely together with the customer to come up with a plan to move the pallets to an out of state warehouse to ensure they would not be damaged during the storm. From there, BlueGrace would be able to get them all sent out to their final destinations.

With two trucks booked, and all pallets set to move, yet another “Embrace Chaos” moment happened.

With two trucks booked and all pallets set to move, yet another “Embrace Chaos” moment happened. The customer’s pallet count went up, adding another 20 pallets and requiring BlueGrace to find yet another truck in a time where capacity was limited. Together our team had to now exhibit all of BlueGrace’s core values to make this happen and be sure this move was a huge success. Within a short time-frame, we were able to find an additional truck and ensure all were successfully loaded and on their way out of state, putting our customer at ease.

What makes BlueGrace different?

We understand that not every customer has the same needs

With our extensive carrier network, technology and dedicated teams, we were able to provide a solution for our customer when they needed it most. We understand that not every customer has the same needs. We also understand that those needs may change over time and with the growth of your company. We are prepared to offer customized services and provide on-demand solutions for your business. BlueGrace is dedicated to being the shipping partner that truly gives your business the 3PLTLC it deserves, from daily shipments to the most difficult situations.

Contact Us For More Information

 

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All Talk or a Reality – Trump’s Crumbling Plans for Infrastructure

While President Donald J. Trump is still expressing confidence in his infrastructure funding plan, gaining bipartisan support during the political climate that is tumultuous can be difficult. However, we’ve seen just how well the presidential confidence has carried other projects such as overhauling health care, changing immigration laws and tax reforms for the middle class. Despite his outward projections and confidence, the cracks in his plan are beginning to show, and we’re left wondering if anything regarding U.S. infrastructure will actually be done this year.

“Trump has scrapped plans for an infrastructure advisory council after two similar panels were disbanded amid backlash to Trump from corporate America,” says John Schulz of Logistics Management. “The President’s Advisory Council on Infrastructure, which was to have advised Trump on the what, when and how of how to improve this nation’s roads and bridges, has been scrapped,” he added.

there is no denying that the need for a robust infrastructure policy is there

While any action has yet to be taken by the government, there is no denying that the need for a robust infrastructure policy is there, and growing. According to a recent Census Bureau report, government spending on public works is at an all time low, about 1.4 percent of the U.S. GDP for the second quarter.

“Ken Simonson, former chief economist for the American Trucking Associations and now with a similar post at Associated General Contractors of America, recently told the New York Times that many states were overwhelmed by past-due infrastructure needs. For example, Illinois recently suspended work on 900 projects because of monetary restraints,” Schulz added.

Unfortunately, despite how desperately U.S. infrastructure needs attention, Administration officials have said the infrastructure plans will be pushed back to the end of the year.

If we’re lucky…

Trump’s Proposed Plan for Infrastructure

So what exactly would this plan entail, were it to come to fruition? Well, the proposal seems rather promising, if it weren’t rather lacking in details or substance. Here’s how Trump decided to start Infrastructure Week this year.

“To kick off the festivities, the president on Monday pushed his plan to privatize air-traffic control. And on Wednesday, he touted his broader infrastructure spending plan. The basic idea of this plan is that the government will spend $200 billion, using tax breaks to incentivize private business to, in turn, spend more money on infrastructure projects. Altogether, with state and local contributions as well, spending would total $1 trillion. The administration also said that it would cut regulations to help the government “get out of the way” of building projects,” according to NPR.

This wouldn’t have been such a problem if there was anything more to it than this, but the White House and the president haven’t exactly been forthcoming with anything more substantial.

Inherent Implementation Issues

The lack of details notwithstanding, there’s also some issues with the plan that can’t simply be fixed by throwing money at it. As Mike Rowe, a guru for all things blue collar, points out, the U.S. doesn’t exactly have a willing and able labor force on standby to handle the work, even if it has the funding.

“There’s a tendency to talk about job creation as if there’s a giant trained workforce standing by, waiting to fill jobs that get created,” Rowe said in an interview with Chuck Todd of Meet the Press.

our country does have a bit of a dysfunctional relationship with regard to the shovel.

“I wrote to the last president modestly, right after his inauguration,” he said, “not long after my foundation started just to say, ‘look the idea that 3 million shovel ready jobs are going to be created sounds great, but from what I’ve seen our country does have a bit of a dysfunctional relationship with regard to the shovel.”

“So before we say poof, here are the jobs,” he added, “we need to talk about the aspirational element and the practical reality of whether anybody is standing by to do the work.”

“Today I’m still saying the same thing,” Rowe explained, “you know if you’re gonna throw a trillion dollars into infrastructure, it kinda presupposes the idea that you’ve got a trained workforce standing by to do those jobs.”

“We don’t,” he concluded.

“And that to me,” he added, “is the most interesting disconnect in the whole dialogue.”

What does this mean for Logistics?

In terms of physical logistics, Trump’s plan comes as a bit of a mixed bag. While we’re still waiting to hear what they actually have in mind for the new policy, what the Trump administration did offer us was a fast tracking process for infrastructure projects.

“On 15 August, President Trump signed an executive order aiming to curtail the time it takes to get an infrastructure project approved and delivered,” says The Loadstar.

“The Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects order allows an administration to develop a scorecard that tracks progress on a quarterly basis. Projects that miss key milestones will automatically spark senior agency officials’ attention,” LoadStar added.

we might see more projects getting jammed up due to the very thing it’s trying to fix.

So on one hand, much of the bureaucracy and red tape gets cut which means projects can get the green light much faster. On the other hand, we might see more projects getting jammed up due to the very thing it’s trying to fix.

“While this is good for jump-starting shelved infrastructure projects around the country, it will likely lead to a nightmare of logistics planning,” warned Colin D’Abreo, CEO of forwarder KOG Transport.

“Many projects, such as strengthening/replacing entire, or parts of, bridges, for example, require large components. This will lead to bottlenecks in the inland transport permitting sectors, leading to delays in the projects,” he added.

In addition to the potential bottleneck for major construction projects, this new policy would only affect infrastructure projects that occur on federally managed roadways. If a project would have to utilize city or state roads, it’s still subject to permits by respective authorities.

So will we see anything substantive from the Trump Administration regarding the  infrastructure support our country needs? As it stands, only time will tell.

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It’s Yappy Hour, Not Happy Hour! BlueGrace Helps Homeless Animals Of Tampa Bay.

Each Friday afternoon, bars and restaurants across the nation receive an influx of patrons ready for drink specials and relaxation after a long workweek. The Humane Society of Tampa Bay decided to put their own spin on this time-honored tradition and begin hosting “Yappy Hours” to raise money for their shelter in various locations around Tampa. “Yappy Hours” have become a popular event for young professionals and a great fundraising opportunity for HSTB. As a longtime partner of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, BlueGrace decided to host its very own Yappy Hour at a local employee favorite, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop.

Puppies, Drinks and Tacos!

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop in Brandon, FL provided indoor and outdoor space so attendees could bring their own dogs, and Humane Society of Tampa Bay brought adoptable dogs in an effort to find their forever homes. “As a proud owner of three rescues of my own, we were excited to participate in such a great cause” said Ian Lieberman, co-owner of Fuzzy’s Taco Shop.

BlueGrace worked with Fuzzy’s to gather raffle prizes that would generate as much buzz and excitement as possible. Luckily, many members of the Tampa Bay community were more than thrilled to donate prizes to the cause. The Tampa Bay Lightning, Rays and Bucs happily donated memorabilia and tickets for the raffle, while local attractions such as Lowry Park Zoo, MOSI, Busch Gardens, Big City Events and the Florida Aquarium donated tickets for admission. If sports or theme parks weren’t enough of an attraction, pet lovers had the opportunity to win a custom pet quilt and footprint keepsake from The Pet Loss Center. Local restaurants Brocato’s, WOB, The Columbia and Fuzzy’s themselves donated hundreds of dollars in gift cards. For our fitness-minded attendees there were health supplements donated by Southern Muscle, a one-month program package from Camp Gladiator, a five-class package from Orange Theory Fitness in Brandon, and one free month membership at Crossfit BNI. In total, over $5,500 in prizes were donated and raffled off.

A total of $1,013 was raised for Humane Society Tampa Bay

“As an organization we’ve hosted an annual food drive competition we call ‘Cats vs Dogs’ for HSTB for six years now” said Courtney Smith, Manager of Culture and Engagement.“We were excited to extend this effort out to our community and had a really great turnout!” In addition to the raffle, Fuzzy’s offered homemade dog treats and brownie sundaes with 100% of the proceeds going to HSTB. They also donated $1 from each frozen drink sold that night. Overall, the community response was tremendous. With over 200 in attendance,  a total of $1,013 was raised for Humane Society Tampa Bay to support their continuous efforts towards the homeless pet population in Tampa Bay. “Humane Society of Tampa Bay is such a phenomenal organization that does so much to help the homeless animals in our community” Smith continued. “Partnering with them for this event was truly a labor of love, we can’t wait to start planning the next one!”

Check out these photos from our Yappy Hour event!

Thank you to Dosia White Photography for capturing these awesome moments.

 

 

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The Truth About Supply Chain Visibility

While just about anyone will be more than happy to tell you that visibility is important for your supply chain, few can explain, let alone demonstrate, the exact reason as to why. It’s true that there are many benefits to be gained from increased visibility. However, there are also a considerable number of myths surrounding it.

“These myths distract us from the real issues and solutions surrounding supply chain visibility, causing us to make decisions based on assumptions that are wrong, expensive or even dangerous,” said Christian Titze, a research director at Gartner. “In doing so, they stifle innovation and slow progress toward real goals, accomplishments, and outcomes. By separating the truth from fiction, supply chain leaders can make more informed decisions about their visibility and multi-enterprise initiatives and investments.”

While some of these myths are just simple untruths, there are a number of them that can be harmful to any business that buys into them. Here are a few points about supply chain visibility that you need to be aware of.

Supply Chain Visibility is a Must

There really is no way around this. All organizations should be striving for increased visibility across their supply chain. Visibility sets the stage for forming and executing plans, events, and gathering data which can both generate value for the company as well as help to reduce potential risks.

Visibility isn’t just a company central focus, either. In order to be successful, visibility needs to extend to partner networks and systems.

Visibility isn’t just a company central focus, either. In order to be successful, visibility needs to extend to partner networks and systems. That doesn’t mean, however, that cooperation with partners is the same as visibility. Both companies need to make efforts to improve visibility in their own right while making sure that their efforts can coincide with one another. Failure to do so creates more roadblocks and obstacles in both the partnership as well as in the supply chain.

Visibility is not a “One Stop Shop”

Some companies believe that they can have all the visibility they need by using one platform or vendor. This is just not true. As it stands, no single vendor offers software that can meet the end-to-end visibility needs of a successful supply chain. In fact, most companies will likely need multiple software packages to achieve true end-to-end visibility.

With that being said, it’s important to understand that not all vendor offerings are the same, nor can they be compared so easily. Every potential application and approach is different and can vary widely based on the needs of your company. In short, to find the right fit, it’s going to take more than some quick browsing.

Finding the Right Partner

It’s not always an easy thing to find blind spots in your supply chain. Otherwise, they wouldn’t create such a pervasive issue. Instead, sometimes it takes the help of another party to see where you’re lacking. Such was the case with a U.S. based agricultural chemical manufacturing company.

“A massive agriculture chemicals manufacturer (hazardous materials) in the United States was with another large 3PL (third-party logistics provider) when an opportunity came across for BlueGrace to do a consultative review. Upon conducting the review and data engineering screening, this company felt that BlueGrace offered greater transparency and pricing structure than their current provider and ultimately made the switch.”

Of course there’s more to the story than simply offering a better deal. What this company needed most was better visibility and a way to share information easily, which would make their operation run more efficiently. While we’ve mentioned some things that aren’t true about supply chain visibility, here are a few (very real) benefits from having better visibility.

  • A better pricing structure was created using data gathered from the company. The new pricing structure yielded a 14 percent savings year-over-year.
  • Better transparency offered new opportunities. Making the switch to intermodal transportation allowed the company to save an additional 20 percent.
  • Developed new market strategies based on supply chain data. By implementing more warehouses across the country, the company could more accurately forecast sales and accommodate the demand for transportation.

These are the genuine and measurable benefits of visibility in the supply chain. It’s the ability to see opportunities as well as weak points and capitalize or improve them, respectively. As the supply chain serves as the backbone of any company, it’s visibility that gives it motion. It’s what allows the necessary foresight to allow for sound decision making and is vital to any company looking to be successful in today’s market.

See How We Saved This Company 14 Percent Year-Over-Year

 

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BlueGrace Helps Houston With Truckloads Of Clothing

We are all aware of the damage inflicted on the Houston area from Hurricane Harvey. The amount of homes and lives destroyed was beyond what any of us could imagine. As a 3PL freight provider, there are many ways we can help; by utilizing our carriers we have had the ability to assist in tragedies like Hurricane Harvey. Trucks can bring the necessary items that people need in times like this and they can do it quickly. They can deliver essential items needed right now, like clothing, food, water and supplies that are more important than money at that specific time. BlueGrace was proud to able to help those in need after receiving a call from a clothing supplier August 30th for just this type of relief project.

Supplier Jumps In With Clothing

This particular customer provides southern theme apparel for its distributors across the US.  They reached out to BlueGrace Logistics on August 30 to inform us that they had 45 pallets of overstock socks, shoes and shirts that they wanted to donate to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. While they had the merchandise that Houston residents needed, they felt items would be best distributed by another party. Our team was able to support them by providing transportation to a non-profit specializing in charitable clothing – which was already set up to distribute to the neediest of Hurricane Harvey victims.

BlueGrace Team Steps Up

Within 20 minutes the request for multiple truckloads was processed, and shortly after the Full Truckloads (FTL’s) were scheduled. BlueGrace was able to utilize our close relationship with our carriers and cover all of the freight costs for the supplier. The first truckload was dispatched the following day and the second the day after. The Less Than Truckload (LTL) portion of the shipments were also taken care of, which included 33 more pallets of emergency items shipped to the non-profit for distribution.

Be Caring Of All Others

At BlueGrace we stand by our 5 Core Values, and Core Value #1 is Be Caring of All OthersWhen an opportunity to help others arises, especially when it is something we specialize in like Truckload and LTL transportation, there’s never a hesitation to jump at the chance to assist in any way possible. Shortly after Hurricane Harvey, our own team at BlueGrace Headquarters in Tampa was effected by Hurricane Irma. We felt the support from so many carriers, vendors, partners and employees this week and we truly appreciate it as we help get Florida back on its feet.

For everyone in Houston, we are here to assist you through these tough times and will continue to help both locally and nationally when we are called on to do so. 

 

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Embracing the New Future of Logistics

When it comes to transportation and logistics, the market is a decidedly different place than it was only a few short decades ago. These changes are not small things either, and given the speed at which these changes are coming, it’s creating a rift between those that are willing to plunge headlong into the abyss, and those that are still afraid to look over the edge.

While firms like Amazon are leading the charge, more companies are warming up to the idea of the new ways of doing business by embracing the digital chasm, as it were.

According to the findings from the “26th Annual Study of Logistics and Transportation Trends (Masters of Logistics)”,  more companies are beginning to understand that new business models and new competition in the field are changing customer expectations.

“Results from the 2017 study show that roughly 75% of respondents are using the mix strategy (be all things to all people) as the predominant approach for their companies compared to the 51% who we reported utilizing a mix strategy in our 2016 results. However, unlike 2016 where many of these same companies focused on reducing cost as a primary objective, respondents this year were almost equally focused on increasing customer service or reducing costs—31.3% and 30.9%, respectively,” says Logistics Management.

The Structure of Service

A strong structure is becoming even more important than it has been in the past. Part of the focus for this years study is the relationship between strategy and structure. Simply put, if a company’s strategy aligns with its objectives, then the structure of the company will naturally develop in a way that makes those goals achievable. While this seems straightforward enough, there is a surprising gap between strategic focus and organizational structure for many companies.

Companies that reported a cost leadership focus strongly agreed that transportation is strategically important to them

“For example, companies that reported a cost leadership focus strongly agreed that transportation is strategically important to them. However, there is not this same level of strong agreement for elements that would provide the supporting organizational structure, such as working together with transportation service providers to be successful or spending time with those providers to learn more about various aspects of their business,” LM explains.

Companies with a focus on customer service, however, have a strategy that better aligns with a transportation oriented structure. So why would a company that’s focused on customer service have a better transportation network than a company that is more dedicated to a cost leadership strategy? Because in the now digitized world of transportation, both transportation and speed of service are goals that directly align with customer service. This means that by focusing on customer service, a company can naturally set itself up to have a more efficient and successful supply chain.

The Impact of Technology

Cost is, of course, another important aspect of running a successful business. When developing a successful cost strategy, it’s crucial to understand the tradeoffs between cost and service. Sacrificing good service for the sake of cutting costs is just as bad, if not worse, than overpaying for subpar service. Additionally, the speed of service becomes even more important when it comes to the digital economy. Companies as well as their transportation service providers “must be able to quantify the cost/value of increasing service levels.”

“Understanding transportation pricing should rely heavily on data science,” says Tommy Barnes, a sponsor contributor. “Currently, there are a lot of decisions being made without a firm grasp and understanding of how they will affect transportation costs—both in the short-term and long-term.”

While we can certainly agree with that, Barnes also believes that most transportation providers don’t have the necessary technology in place to accurately determine the cost of delivering services to their customers.

“Without that, they can’t accurately convey the value associated with increasing service levels or capabilities, leaving their customers to make decisions on a commodity price basis only,” Barnes said.

Having the “right technology” in place is simply a matter of having the right Transportation Management System (TMS) in place.

Yet having the “right technology” in place is simply a matter of having the right Transportation Management System (TMS) in place. The transportation industry, as a whole, are embracing and utilizing a TMS and even those that don’t, can have access to a world-class TMS for free!

Improving Data Shows the Real Strength of Trucking

There is an interesting correlation between the success of the survey and the data technologies that are utilized as more companies start relying on digitized services. As more manufacturers and companies go digital, the ease of gathering information increases, which allows the survey to get a better feeling for what’s going on in all parts of the industry.

A company must have real-time visibility into the entire lifecycle of their freight—all the way from quote-to-invoice

The report credits this improvement as a direct result of adopting modern automation and visibility tools. “To compete in a digital economy, a company must have real-time visibility into the entire lifecycle of their freight—all the way from quote-to-invoice—in order to manage exceptions, and even prevent errors from happening altogether.”

“The most efficient way to achieve this is through a multimodal, multiservice connectivity platform, a single source that views and analyzes all inventory and transportation positions,” he added.

While new data does reveal a larger portion of the industry, it also highlights some of the troubled areas. Capacity in the LTL sector is beginning to tighten, owing to a lower availability of equipment. Additionally, we’re seeing a growth in turndown rates, which usually bodes ill for the industry.

“All of this is happening at a time when we’re also seeing some interesting changes in the transportation spend by mode. There was a sizeable increase in spend for private fleet/dedicated (23.8% in 2017 versus 20.8% in 2016). This was the largest shift in transportation modal spend YOY. LTL remained essentially unchanged despite healthy rate increases during the past 12 months. Surprisingly, TL showed a 2.1% increase in its share of the transportation budget despite significant pressure to reduce prices as capacity outpaced demand,” says TM.

All of this to say that despite the troubles the trucking industry has been facing, between new regulations, bouncing freight rates, and weak demand, the trucking industry is still going strong. In fact, trucking remains the favorite mode of transportation for the United States.

Embracing the Change

Fortune often favors the bold, and it will be the bold that emerge victorious in the changing market place. For companies who are still taking their first tentative steps to technology and digitization, embracing this new methodology sooner rather than later will pay off in the long run. Fortunately, trailblazing and pioneering isn’t necessary, especially when it comes to strengthening logistics and your supply chain. Find out how BlueGrace can help your company run more efficiently and let us help you take those first steps into the new market landscape.

 

 

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Hurricane Irma – BlueGrace Tampa Update

BlueGrace Post-Irma | We Are Up And Running

It has been a challenging weekend at BlueGrace corporate headquarters in Tampa, Florida. Hurricane Irma came in to our area Sunday night and left a trail of destruction, flooding and power outages, but we were prepared. BlueGrace got right to work, getting all of our cloud based systems transferred to our regional locations in Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and Richmond.

Yesterday we were able to get our generators online and power restored to most of the office, and the Tampa team started back to work. We did have some obstacles with our systems but as of this morning, Tuesday September 12th, we are fully functional and providing the world class service our customers expect.

We want to thank you all for your patience! Now that we are up and running, we are ready to handle all of your freight and shipping requests.

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Why Heavier Trucks Aren’t the Answer

While the American Trucking Association has been rallying in an attempt to get approval for heavier trucks on the road from Congress, they might not be aiming in the right direction. The obvious standpoint is that heavier trucks would mean better business. As U.S. trucks haul hundreds of billions of dollars across the country annual, a heavy truck would mean more freight can be moved and therefore better profit margins, right?

The trucking slump has nothing to do with the weight of the trucks

But the truth of the matter is that the trucking slump has nothing to do with the weight of the trucks, desired or otherwise, and everything to do with the pricing and the trucking environment as a whole.

A Necessary Change of Perspective

It’s no secret that the U.S. trucking industry is going through a pretty rough patch. The driver shortage alone produces a myriad of problems as trucking companies struggle to retain drivers against new regulations, time spent away from home, and adequate compensation. Even as the industry looks to employ female drivers in what is typically considered a male dominated labor force, filling the gap is proving to be more than difficult.

Driver shortage notwithstanding, the biggest issue that the industry is facing is when it comes to pricing, not the weight allotment 

“Some of the industry’s challenges with achieving adequate profit levels result from overcapacity because of a failure to realize that trucking depends on derived demand for volumes, and that lower freight prices will not stimulate more shipments if the economy is not growing,” says the JOC.

What many carriers aren’t understanding is that price is the one aspect they do have control over. Unfortunately, many of them had fallen into the trap of using a pricing model that was created before many regulations were passed, meaning they’ve had the power to change pricing for the past 30 years but simply failed to do so.

The Turning Point

That’s right. Most trucking companies are using a service pricing system that should have been phased out 30 years ago. Interstate loads were deregulated in 1980 and the same for intrastate loads in 1995. Parcel carrying companies charged based on distance and weight since 1985, leaving some gaps in their plan that didn’t account for oversized packages. During this time there were only five accessorial charges.

Now, 30 years later, parcel companies have shifted over to DIM (dimensional) weight pricing

Now, 30 years later, parcel companies have shifted over to DIM (dimensional) weight pricing. Now, not only can they capture the dimension of all packages they process, but the added charges based on the new pricing structure lead to higher revenue for carriers. Additionally, the accessorial charges have changed from five to 60, which makes up close to 11 percent of the parcel carrier revenue.

Weight Vs. Distance

While the LTL sector has made some changes to incorporate DIM pricing, it’s the FTL sector that is lagging behind. The problem is that the truckload segment is still relying on the distance to create their price point. While load weight does affect variable and fixed costs, the industry has yet to fully incorporate weight into price point generation. Because of this outdated model, shippers with lighter loads can subsidize the heavier loads of other shippers which are hurting the industry as a whole.

Since they’ve begun to incorporate DIM weight pricing, LTL carriers have seen a growth of 3.2 percent per hundredweight for the second quarter of 2017

So what results has the LTL industry seen for their changes? Since they’ve begun to incorporate DIM weight pricing, LTL carriers have seen a growth of 3.2 percent per hundredweight for the second quarter of 2017. This follows the average growth trend of 3.3 percent per year from 2013 to 2016 since the changes have been made.

The FTL sector, however, has seen a nominal growth of 0.5 percent for the second quarter, down from the 1.8 percent over the 2013 to 2016 period. This shows a proof of concept that taking control over the pricing structure can have a much greater impact than bickering over the weight limit.

“As noted, other industry segments have changed business processes and pricing to capture the cost associated with different shipments and value added for various customer groups. Instead of spending resources on uncertainty associated with getting legislative relief for heavier trucks, which will likely create a more negative image with the public, truckload carriers should focus on digging out of the pricing pothole, which is within their control,” the JOC added.

Overall rate costs would be negligible for shippers and manufacturers

While shippers might not necessarily be thrilled at the prospect of higher rates, the overall rate costs would be negligible for shippers and manufacturers. Even a modest 7 percent increase in shipping price would have a negligible increase in production cost, which can easily be passed on to consumers, thus increasing the quality of service and easing the woes of the trucking industry.

 

 

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Carrier Spotlight: UPS Capital Insurance Agency, Inc.

 

BlueGrace logistics is partnering with UPS Capital Insurance Agency, Inc. (UPSCIA) to provide quality protection for carrier’s goods in transit. Our specialized logistics knowledge, proven industry experience and enhanced supply chain visibility allows UPSCIA to offer insurance services you may not find with typical risk mitigation providers.

Why UPS Capital Insurance Agency, Inc.?

A lost, damaged or delayed delivery can result in revenue loss and a ruined reputation. That’s why UPSCIA offers a variety of options that deliver affordable cover­age to protect BlueGrace customers against loss or damage to freight shipments. This wide range of insurance products helps avoid delays and protects your bottom line in the unlikely event of a disruption.

Features of the protection program:

  • Covered losses are valued at replacement cost at destination, as determined if applicable by commercial invoice plus freight
  • Declare values easily through BlueShip®
  • Covers multi-carriers

Benefits of the protection program include:

  • Simple claims process delivers efficient resolution and settlement
  • Ease of use – insure freight shipments seamlessly through BlueShip
  • Coverage flexibility – coverage applies to any freight carrier you choose through BlueShip®
  • Fast claims resolution

Protecting your freight shipment:

Customers can select UPSCIA protection directly through BlueShip®. The freight management system will automatically calculate the total insurance charges for the transaction entered as determined by the commodity being shipped, mode of transportation and final destination.

Pricing:

UPSCIA protection is based on a commoditized pricing structure. The cost of protection will be calculated by the freight management system and presented for final review and acceptance before completing your transaction.

Limits of protection:

Customers can select coverage for goods up to $100,000 in value, per shipment. Shipments exceeding $100,000 will need to obtain additional approval from UPSCIA. (Maximum Insurable Value: $1,000,000 per shipment) 

Additional services offered by UPS Capital, a UPSCIA affiliate company

UPS Capital, an affiliate of UPSCIA, offers a wide range of products and services designed to meet all of your supply chain needs. Customers searching for additional supply chain solutions can visit our website at www.upscapital.com and discover a wide range of products and services designed to improve cash flow, reduce trade credit risk, and securely accept payments.

 

Get A Free Freight Quote with Insurance Today!

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Strong Supply Chains Create Strong Customer Experiences

Regardless of the industry, customer service will always be the cornerstone of a successful business foundation. Ask anyone you know, and they can tell you about a time they received subpar service, and they will always remember the business who delivered it. It’s that little facet of human nature, the ability to recall something that displeased us so vividly, that makes customer service so vital to a company. Yet even knowing that only 27 percent of companies believe that they offer a superior service over their competitors according to research from Gartner.

A significant opportunity for companies to up their game isn’t from the front end, but the back

While customer service representatives play a prominent role in managing customer relations, a significant opportunity for companies to up their game isn’t from the front end, but the back. The supply chain is pivotal in both marketing and customer service, and strong supply chain organization can make a tremendous difference.

“The supply chain organization typically plays a secondary role to marketing in driving customer experience strategy,” according to Lisa Callinan, a research director at Gartner. “Things are changing, however, in forward-thinking organizations, because the supply chain is uniquely placed to identify customers’ needs and drive better customer experiences.”

Connection Between Supply Chain and Customer Service

Of course, many big name companies understand the importance of the supply chain when it comes to driving up customer satisfaction. Apple, Johnson and Johnson, and Toyota are just a few. Amazon is perhaps the reigning champ when it comes to their supply chain and customer satisfaction. “Customers are influenced by their experience of the supply chain — even in the simplest terms, it’s easy to see that a late delivery can disappoint, whereas an expedited delivery can delight,” Callinan added.

Logistics and customer service make up the backbone of customer interaction

Logistics and customer service make up the backbone of customer interaction, yet many companies still haven’t discovered the best way to obtain the maximum value from either aspect.

A Case Study

At BlueGrace we have the privilege of serving a broad range of companies and industries. One company in particular highlights just how important strong supply chain management can be when it comes to customer satisfaction.

In this particular example, we worked with a company that is the leader in lifting and moving equipment rentals for the U.S. and maintains a comprehensive inventory of equipment. However, despite being best in class for customer service, the company began to suffer when rapid growth began to affect their supply chain.

“Within their industry, this company has a well-earned reputation for best in class customer service. However, faced with changes brought on by rapid growth, they experienced increased inventory management costs and a negative impact on invoicing as a result of delays associated with rentals placed in Off-Hire status but not yet returned to them.”

Given the changes and increased volume of demand, the supply chain became disrupted which then created a domino effect. Inventory management costs began to rise while invoicing suffered because the supply chain stuttered. As a result, a company who typically excels in customer service started lacking which hurt the business as a result.

Through our four step transportation management process, the solution left the company in much better standing:

  • Discover – Research and analysis of current processes,
  • Engineer – Build the solution and plan for integration of process improvements,
  • Execute – Implement recommendations/support and finally
  • Perform – Measure, review and ongoing process improvement

Improved return rental cycle time by 7.3 days, reduced pickup information errors by over 95% and sped up invoicing of returned equipment by 80%.

With the solution in place, the company was able to improve their return rental cycle time by 7.3 days, reduce pickup information errors by over 95% and speed up invoicing of returned equipment by 80%. By making these improvements to the supply chain and making the process more efficient the level of customer satisfaction rose significantly.

This goes to show just how truly interconnected the supply chain is with good customer service. Customer service and the supply chain are the building blocks for any good business foundation. Handling them both properly is what separates a good business from a great business.

 

 

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Trucking is Still America’s Favorite Mode of Freight Transportation

The American Trucking Association recently released the latest edition of the ATA American Trucking Trends 2017 which serves as a compilation and benchmark of data for the trucking industry. Interestingly enough, despite the lull in trucking over the past few years, the ATA report shows the trucking industry’s revenues for 2016 to be upwards of $676.2 billion dollars for the year.

ATA report shows the trucking industry’s revenues for 2016 to be upwards of $676.2 billion dollars for the year.

“The information in Trends highlights exactly what I tell elected officials, regulators and key decision-makers every day: trucking is literally the driving force behind our great economy,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “Safe, reliable and efficient motor carriers enable businesses throughout the supply chain to maintain lean inventories, thereby saving the economy billions of dollars each year.”

Trends don’t just cover revenues either. Just about any data you could want or need about the trucking industry in the U.S. is at your fingertips. Here are some other interesting statistics uncovered by the ATA’s Trends

  • Trucks carried 70.6 percent of all freight moved in the U.S., about 10.42 billion tons.
  • In 2016, there were 33.8 million registered commercial trucks including 3.68 million class 8 trucks.
  • Combined they used 38.8 billion gallons of diesel, 15.5 billion gallons of gasoline and traveled a distance of 450.4 billion miles.
  • U.S. commercial trucks paid $41.3 billion in state and federal highway fees and taxes.

The trucking industry is one of the most resilient in the country

While it might seem like the U.S. trucking industry is on the ropes, the nation still depends on trucks to haul freight and keep the country moving. The Trends report just goes to show that the trucking industry is one of the most resilient in the country and will continue to be so for years to come.

Partner with BlueGrace Logistics

BlueGrace is an award-winning, full-service Third Party Logistics (3PL) provider that helps businesses manage their freight spend through industry leading technology with a large network of established carriers to customers across the country. Sure, lots of firms may claim that, but what really sets us apart is our passion to support your success in this complex $676.2 billion Billion U.S. trucking industry.

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Walmart OTIF Policy – What are the Challenges and Concerns?

Walmart’s new addendum to their Must Arrive By Date (MABD) provision is making some suppliers more than a little nervous. OTIF (On Time In Full) rule will begin to punish suppliers for late deliveries with a 3 percent charge back if they are not made in a timely fashion. While this extension of the MABD fits with Walmart’s ever growing expectations, it could create some significant challenges for the supply chain, particularly when fresh produce is involved as it narrows the delivery window from MABD significantly.

It could create some significant challenges for the supply chain, particularly when fresh produce is involved

While MABD isn’t anything new as other major retailers such as Target and Home Depot have been using the threat of the 3 percent charge back as a means of encouraging more timely deliveries from shippers, OTIF significantly narrows the grace period a shipper would have to make the delivery.  

“Walmart is going to require its suppliers (shippers) to meet a two-day shipping window instead of its previous four-day window, as well as up its required compliance rate from 90 percent to 95 percent,” says Logistics Management.

Tightening Expectations

Under the MABD guidelines, suppliers had a four-day window to ensure that product was delivered to it’s intended destination. Under the OITF policy, that window will narrow significantly, only allowing a one day window for produce and perishables and a two-day window for other general goods. Suppliers will be hit with the 3 percent chargeback penalty if goods arrive late, incomplete, or even early. Additionally, if Walmart decides the supplier is, in any way, responsible for a variance in the delivery, they’ll receive a chargeback, end of story.

Under the OITF policy, that window will narrow significantly.

Good For The Customers But Tough For The Suppliers

Walmart’s plan does make a lot of sense when you consider they are working with JIT (Just in Time) principles. They don’t want excessive inventory sitting in stockrooms or in trailers behind the store, and they expect their suppliers to help make that a reality.

They don’t want excessive inventory sitting in stockrooms or in trailers behind the store

“The impetus for these types of changes over the years, according to Walmart, is part of an effort to ‘streamline its supply chain and cut costs,’ adding that ‘stores are no longer acting as warehouses, with too much inventory in back stock rooms or in trailers behind stores. Walmart wants merchandise to arrive in stores just in time to restock shelves and serve customers,’ ” Logistics Management adds.  

Compliance for shippers and suppliers is a going to be much tougher

While this is a sound decision from the retailer standpoint, compliance for shippers and suppliers is going to be much tougher, especially when you consider the nature of the produce industry.

“We predict in advance when the crop is going to come off, but weather can change that. Are we going to be held accountable for that? That’s going to cause a problem,” says one Walmart produce supplier.

Walmart produce executive, Bruce Peterson of Peterson Insights Inc says “The fresh produce industry is different and there should be ‘at least some degree of tolerance.’ From his more than 20 years of experience as the top produce executive at Walmart, he noted that almost all of the violations of the OTIF policy are at the beginning or the end of a season when weather and timing do play an out-sized role.”

The fresh produce industry is different and there should be ‘at least some degree of tolerance.’

The Blame Game

Obviously, no one wants to take the financial hit for falling out of grounds on compliance. So the question being asked is if there is a violation, who’s at fault, the supplier or the carrier?

Who’s at fault, the supplier or the carrier?

Take a look at the industry wide issue of assessing a fee or a fine on someone involved in the logistics of the supply chain. Holding the supplier of the transportation financially responsible is problematic when factoring in the risk-reward nature of the total transaction.

For example — A supplier could have a load of product with a value of tens of thousands of dollars. A trucker may only be getting $3,000 for the delivery of that load. Assessing the trucker a fee, which could easily be 30 percent of his take, for a delivery out of compliance seems unreasonable.

It doesn’t seem right to punish a good shipper in the off chance that they’ve had a late delivery due to weather or some other unforeseen circumstance. Rather, if there’s a serious problem with the shippers, then it’s time to find a better shipper.

The Solution

Proper lead time is crucial for suppliers and manufacturers that work with larger retailers like Walmart. One way to increase your chances of success is to partner with a third party logistics provider (3PL).

The new OITF mandate is going to have an impact on supplier ratings,

The new OITF mandate is going to have an impact on supplier ratings, so finding a 3PL who is both consistent and reliable is critical for navigating these new changes successfully. A good 3PL partner can examine your supply chain from start to finish and help to strengthen weak spots that might create issues in the future, reducing the chances of chargebacks and other issues that might be caused by OITF.

A good 3PL partner can examine your supply chain from start to finish and help to strengthen weak spots

BlueGrace can work with suppliers on freight consolidation, chargeback auditing, and management as well as load planning and optimization. We look at every aspect of the shipment and find the appropriate fix for the shipments to reach the shelves on time and in-full. Combine this with our proprietary technology BlueShip™ and your chances for success during these mandates/compliance regulation changes will undoubtedly increase!

 

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Is Intermodal on the Rise with ELD, Driver Shortage and Tightening Capacity?

A recent Cowen & Co survey discovered that 65 percent of shippers didn’t move their freight from road to rail during the second quarter. This result was also backed by a survey from Morgan Stanley, which had 59 percent of respondents indicating the same. However, while few shippers decide to make the switch, that could be changing this December. Why would shippers decided to hop the rails instead of utilizing trucks? Because of the Electronic Logging Device mandate which will be going into effect at the end of the year.

65 percent of shippers didn’t move their freight from road to rail during the second quarter.

The Reluctance to Shift

While rails are touted as a way to save money, more than a few shippers are reluctant to shift away from using trucks to haul their freight. Ideally, railroads as an intermodal service can offer a lower price at the expense of some speed. When it comes to inbound costs, it can be a way for some shippers to cut down on expenses in order to remain competitive. Or at least, that is the reasoning being sold to them.

Railroads as an intermodal service can offer a lower price at the expense of some speed

According to the Cowen survey, nearly half of the shippers surveyed stated that intermodal options only saved them upwards of five percent. A quarter of the respondents said that truck prices were lower than intermodal options. It’s that tight gap that might be responsible for making the reluctance to shift from road to rail. As there isn’t a huge cost advantage for sacrificing speed, most shippers prefer to stick with trucks as they don’t believe that rail can keep up with the speed of inventory turnover.

They don’t believe that rail can keep up with the speed of inventory turnover

Rails Starting to See Growth

Whatever reservations shippers might hold for rail and intermodal options will soon be falling to the wayside. For shippers that already made the switch, they noted not only better intermodal service but also the tightening of truckload capacity as their main reasons why.

Tightening of truckload capacity is a BIG concern

“Morgan Stanley asked shippers to rank truckload capacity in six months based on a scale where one equals abundant, five is balanced, and 10 is very tight. Shippers put the current market at 6.3 and projected 6.8 in six months. One year ago, the number was 4.9,” according to Transport Topics.

Executives believe that many truckers will leave the industry rather than deal with the ELD mandate

Another factor to consider is the potential spike in truck rates as truckload executives believe that many truckers will leave the industry rather than deal with the ELD mandate. Which, in turn, could cause a modest 3 percent increase in intermodal rates over the next six months due to a rise in demand.

“Overall, we view the results of this survey as positive for the railroads,” says Jason Seidl, a Cowen & Co analyst. “The 3.0% price increase expectation leaves additional breathing room from the all-important 2% rate, which is important because rail-cost inflation typically hovers in that area, and pricing will need to remain above that level in order for the railroads to improve their operating ratios.”

We view the results of this survey as positive for the railroads

The ELD mandate, the tightening of capacity, and the driver shortage could all be contributing factors to shippers taking a more favorable look at intermodal and rail options. In any case, 72 percent of respondents for the Morgan Stanley survey indicated that they would be increasing their rail spending in the next six months. However, in order to close the gap between either mode of pricing to err on the side of rails, there would have to be a serious shift in the trucking industry.

 

 

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Supply Chain: Nervous Over NAFTA

The White House has released President Trump’s plans to “renegotiate” the North American Free Trade Agreement. While it comes as a welcome sight for investors, it’s only sent the logistics industry into a mild state of panic as they try to determine just what effects these changes will have on the supply chain.

While on the campaign trail, Trump cited the deal as “the worst trade deal signed maybe anywhere” making a bold proclamation that maybe it was time to leave it altogether. However, in a recent press release, the administration suggested a slight restructuring, rather than a total withdrawal.

Sudden Changes Can Hurt the Industry

Trump’s business demeanor has a lot to do with the reason that the logistics industry is nervous, according to the president of the Arkansas Trucking Association, Shannon Newton. She said that a sudden change to the free trade agreement between the U.S. and its neighbors could cause some serious issues in the supply chain, especially when there isn’t time to adapt to these changes.

The industry has anxiety over change.

“The industry has anxiety over change, and it’s not necessarily that the way we are doing it is the best way,” Newton said. “It’s that the way freight currently flows dependent upon the methodologies that are currently in play.”

A sudden change in any trade agreement, could upset the way shippers do business.

A sudden change in any trade agreement, let alone NAFTA, could potentially upset the way shippers do business. Combine that with innovations in technology and rapid changes in consumer demand and renegotiations could have some serious adverse effects on shipping.

The Ripple Effect: Automotives

Just how bad could this ripple effect hit U.S. industries? Quartz explains that renegotiating NAFTA would more likely kill jobs in the U.S. auto industry rather than improve them.

Renegotiating NAFTA would more likely kill jobs

“Take the proposed (and widely criticized) border-adjustment tax proposal, which would result in higher taxes for imports. If it was applied at a 15% rate, it would raise the cost of making a car by $1,000, according to the BCG analysis. That’s too small of a difference to warrant moving production from Mexico to the US but large enough to force manufacturers to adjust—at the expense of US suppliers,” Quartz says.

So the manufacturers pass the buck, and the consumer pays a little more for the end product, right? Not exactly. What would likely happen is that automakers would simply offer vehicles with fewer features. Those features, such as automatic braking systems, would shut down other jobs somewhere down the supply chain.

Automakers would simply offer vehicles with fewer features

The Boston Consulting Group projects that 20,000 to 45,000 US jobs could be lost this way if the US adopts a 15% border adjustment tax. Which not only goes against the grain of the “America First” initiative proposed by the Trump administration but also make the United States significantly less competitive in the global market. And that’s just for the automotive industry, saying nothing of other manufacturers that rely on goods from Mexico.

Not All Doom and Gloom

Most of what is causing the anxiety in the trucking industry is simply the uncertainty of what’s to come. However, there are some positives to the new proposals. For instance, the new proposals heavily support the automation and streamlining of the customs procedures at the border which could help to be boost efficiency of cross border logistics.

The new proposals heavily support the automation and streamlining of the customs procedures

“For its part, the U.S. has already indicated an interest in automating and streamlining customs and border procedures. Those were among negotiation objectives released on July 17 by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). That 18-page document asks for ‘automation of import, export, and transit processes’ as well as ‘reduced import, export, and transit forms, documents, and formalities [and] enhanced harmonization of customs data requirements’ for goods crossing the border,” according to an article from Today’s Trucking.

If President Trump’s negotiations could help to address the imbalance, specifically in wage and labor gaps between the U.S. and Mexico, while streamlining trade between customs process, then it could end up as a win for the logistics industry. As it stands, however, only time will tell.

 

 

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OTIF – The New MABD for Walmart Suppliers

Walmart and other big box retailers introduced us to the “Must Arrive By Date” or MABD several years ago, which held suppliers to tighter compliance regulations. These regulations raised quite the concern over suppliers getting the right products to the right stores or distribution centers by a certain time or they would pay a fee.

Fast forward to now and we are having a similar discussion with suppliers and shipping companies about the new “On-Time In-Full” OTIF, policy. Although this mandate has been in the introductory phase since January of this year, the short pays will begin now and suppliers will most likely see their first chargebacks from Walmart in September! This program mandates that if any shipment arrives early, late, or on-time but is not packaged properly, the shipper will be charged 3 percent of the total items’ value. (i.e. a supplier has a purchase order of $10,000 but their product didn’t meet the OTIF guidelines so Walmart will only pay $9700 for the merchandise.)

The short pays will begin now and suppliers will most likely see their first chargebacks in September!

OTIF > MABD

The OTIF is still very much a part of the MABD, but with much more focus on the “in-full”. In the past, if less than 90% of merchandise cases were received within the MABD delivery window, the supplier would pay 3% of the cost of goods. Now, full-truckload suppliers of fast-turning items must arrive by the specified date 75% of the time, 100 in-full.

The OTIF is still very much a part of the MABD, but with much more focus on the “in-full”

Any items claimed late or missing during a one-month period will be fined 3 percent of their value. Starting in February 2018, OTIF will go into full effect, requiring deliveries to be on-time and in-full 95 percent of the time.

The MABD Window vs. OTIF Window

The MABD Window was a three-day grace period for perishables and a four-day grace period for food, consumables and general merchandise. The OTIF window is much tighter with a one-day for perishables and a two-day for general merchandise.

“Variability is the No. 1 killer of the supply chain,’’ Kendall Trainor, a Wal-Mart senior director of operations support and supplier collaboration.

Variability is the No. 1 killer of the supply chain

In some cases, a problem will be Wal-Mart’s fault, so the retailer has developed a scoring system that breaks down reasons for non-compliant deliveries and will fine suppliers only if they’re responsible. If suppliers don’t agree with the fine, too bad: Disputes “will not be tolerated,’’ Wal-Mart says.

This change is expected to add $1 billion in revenue.

Arriving early, arriving late, not arriving in full will be the issue in a shipper’s supply chain. This change is expected to add $1 billion in revenue. Walmart had to find efficiencies wherever it could and they feel a sense of urgency as the rival between them and Amazon amplifies.

FTL and LTL Guideline Breakdown

Here are the latest OTIF guidelines for full truckload (FTL):

  • Starting August 2017, FTL suppliers must deliver orders 100% in full, on the must arrive by date, at least 75% of the time.
  • By February 2018, FTL suppliers must deliver orders 100% in full, on the must arrive by date, 95% of the time.
  • Non-compliance will result in a fine of 3% of the “missing case” value; early deliveries will also be penalized, to eliminate overstock situations. (Penalties will be short paid monthly.)

For less-than-full truckload (LTL):

  • Starting August 2017, LTL suppliers must deliver orders 100% in full, on the must arrive by date 33% of the time.
  • By February 2018, LTL suppliers must deliver orders 100% in full, on the must arrive by date, at least 36% of the time.
  • If OTIF was 36% or better in August 2017, then the supplier must demonstrate a 20% improvement.
  • Non-compliance penalties (3% of non-compliance COGS) will be short paid monthly.

What does this mean for YOU?

Manufacturers and suppliers that work with large retailers like Walmart 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).

Suppliers scorecards will inevitably be affected

Suppliers scorecards will inevitably be affected, so it is imperative for a supplier to find a 3PL they can count on for navigating these changes. 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 OTIF will impact the suppliers products.

We look at every aspect of your shipment and find the appropriate fix

BlueGrace has the ability to work with suppliers on freight consolidation, chargeback auditing and management as well as load planning and optimization. We look at every aspect of the shipment and find the appropriate fix for the shipments to reach the shelves on-time and in-full. Combine this with our proprietary technology BlueShip™ and your chances for success during these mandates/compliance regulation changes will undoubtedly increase!

 

 

 

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