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CSA Report Card: Room for Improvement

Compliance, Safety & Accountability

While the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scoring mandate is meant to improve carrier performance and safety for trucks on the road by providing a scoring metric, it wasn’t without its blind spots. A recently released report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) shows that the CSA scoring method has some pretty glaring flaws when it comes to the Safety Measurement System (SMS) which can lead to an unfair scoring for a company.

CSA scoring method has some pretty glaring flaws

The main issues brought up by the NAS report include “some BASICs lack correlation with crash risk, data insufficiency, use of relative rankings, use of non-fault or non-preventable crashes, state variations in inspections and violations, lack of consistency in violation coding, a lack of transparency of the SMS algorithm and the public availability of SMS rankings,” according to GloStone.

The DOT will need to make the SMS metrics more fair and accurate

A point to note from the NAS report is that they believe the premise behind the SMS is fairly solid; it’s the FMCSA’s execution of the program that leaves something to be desired. The DOT will need to make the SMS metrics more fair and accurate when it comes to assessing actual safety risk.

Recommendations for the SMS

Again, the idea of the SMS is sound, the main problem is when it comes to the execution of the SMS. “The Safety Measurement System is used to identify commercial motor vehicle carriers at high risk for future crashes. It’s the heart of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability enforcement regime, known as CSA. After numerous criticisms of the methodology from the industry, Congress called for the review of SMS as part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015,” according to TruckingInfo.

Congress called for the review of SMS as part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015

The current SMS metric fails to take into account some variables that play a bigger role in safety practices. Some of these faulty measurements include:

  • Using highly variable assessments
  • Not accounting for crashes where the motor carrier is not at fault
  • Including carriers that have very different tasks in the same peer groups
  • Using measures that are sensitive to effects from one or more individual states
  • Using measures that are not predictive of a carrier’s future crash frequency
  • Using measures that are not reflective of a carrier’s efforts to improve its safety performance over time.

Statistically Principled Approach

It’s easy to see that these oversights can lead to some bigger issues down the road. For that reason, the NAS study suggests that the current system takes a “more statistically principled approach” when it comes to collecting data. The NAS report recommends using latent trait theory or an “item response theory” (IRT) model. The IRT is the same approach used by hospitals for safety and performance rankings and helps to shape policy decisions.

“We have found, for the most part, that the current SMS implementation is defensible as being fair and not overtly biased against various types of carriers, to the extent that data on MCMIS can be used for this purpose,” said the National Academies panel.

SMS implementation is defensible as being fair and not overtly biased against various types of carriers

“However, we believe some features of SMS implementation can be improved upon, and some of the details of the implementation are ad hoc and not fully supported by empirical studies. Many of these details of implementation would be easily addressed if the algorithm currently used were replaced by a statistical model that is natural to this sort of discrimination problem,” they added.

Quality of Data

Another issue mentioned by the report is the poor quality of data. It’s recommended that the FMCSA continues to work with state departments and other agencies to improve the collection of data when it comes to miles traveled and crashes. Unfortunately, as it stands, this data is either missing or is of poor quality. Should the FMCSA be able to improve the quality of their data, the SMS will be able to take other factors such as environmental factors of travel which will give a better understanding of the crash conditions.

Unfortunately, as it stands, this data is either missing or is of poor quality

There are other, more obscured, data points that the report says should be included when collecting data on carriers, including driver turnover, cargo type, as well as method and level of driver pay. The panel suggests that driver pay is an important factor to consider especially when taking into account that better-paid drivers (those who aren’t paid based on miles traveled) tend to have fewer crashes.

What Does this Mean for the Industry

As you can imagine, the trucking industry has been waiting for NAS findings as it highlights all the issues they’ve had with the program for the beginning.

“This report has confirmed much of what we have said about the program for some time,” said American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear. “The program, while a valuable enforcement tool, has significant shortcomings that must be addressed, and we look forward to working with FMCSA to strengthen the program.”

we look forward to working with FMCSA to strengthen the program

If the FMCSA does decide to implement the suggested changes, then we can expect a more or less total overhaul of the CSA rating system. Now carriers with a mediocre level of safety performance can’t rely on poorer carriers to make them look good. Simply put, everyone is going to have to step up their game and start pulling their weight, safely.

Carriers with a mediocre level of safety performance can’t rely on poorer carriers to make them look good

In addition to providing more accurate and reliable data, carriers will also be able to get a better understanding of their score as well as how to improve it.

 

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What Happens If Freight Economy Rises?

 

A market that is already beleaguered by a significant shortage in workforce is seeing a disturbing trend in the form of an uptick in turnover rates.

“The slight uptick in turnover, despite weak freight volumes in the first quarter, may be indicative of a tightening in the driver market,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “The situation bears watching because if the freight economy picks up significantly, turnover will surely accelerate – as will concerns about the driver shortage.”

Turnover will surely accelerate – as will concerns about the driver shortage

Within the first few months of 2017, the annualized rate of turnover for large TL (truckload) fleets, rose three percent, up to 74 percent. While it’s somewhat heartening to know that this is still down 15 points from what it was last year, a 74 percent turnover rate is nothing to be ignored. For small TL fleets, the increase was a bit smaller, two points, bringing the turnover rate to 66 percent.

Fixing a Growing Problem

When you consider the importance of trucking to the United States, the shortage in drivers is becoming a serious issue. Add in the fact that a large portion of the active drivers on the road are just about at retirement age and you have a full-blown crisis for the industry.

The shortage in drivers is becoming a serious issue.

So what is being done to fix or, at the very least, soften the blow of the driver shortage? Well, for starters, many trucking companies are taking steps to recruit more women into what is typically considered a predominately male industry. Anything from offering better maternity leaves to other incentives. At this point, anything that can draw in more personnel and drivers is considered a win.

Many trucking companies are taking steps to recruit more women

‘The American Trucking Associations, declared in a recent report that the industry needs to add almost 1 million new drivers by 2024 to replace retired drivers and keep up with demand. Some companies have added 401(k) and tuition reimbursement programs. Others have hired “female driver liaisons” and started support groups called “Highway Diamonds,” said Ellen Voie, president of the Women in Trucking Association,’ in a quote taken from the Washington Post.

The industry needs to add almost 1 million new drivers by 2024 to replace retired drivers and keep up with demand.

“In 2015, her organization created a Girl Scout badge to teach girls that trucking isn’t just for men,”  WP added.

Women in Trucking

Carriers are really pushing for more female drivers, according to Voie. “They’re facing the retirement issue, yes, but they also know that women tend to be more risk averse, which is extremely important.”

The drive for more women drivers is starting to pay off, however, there was a slight increase in female drivers over the course of the past year, rising from 6 to 7 percent.

There was a slight increase in female drivers over the course of the past year

Even as we see some slight improvements, it’s almost impossible to believe that one of the most predominate fields of employment in the United States might be on the verge of extinction, or at the very least is in danger of heading that way.

Is the Trucker the Only One at Risk?

A recent post from Bloomberg has a rather interesting interactive chart that shows whether or not your job might disappear in the future. For the trucking industry, it’s not just the drivers who might be dusting off their resume, but even shipping clerks and freight agents might soon be out of a job as the industry continues to change and evolve through new technology.

Even shipping clerks and freight agents might soon be out of a job

Most of what the chart predicts is that low skill, low paying jobs, will eventually be phased out by computerization and automation. For example, Shipping, Receiving and Traffic clerks have a 98% probability of having their position becoming computerized in the future. However, as we’ve learned from history, the evolutionary path of technology isn’t always the easiest to predict. While it’s true some jobs might become obsolete, there are a number of jobs that will simply become augmented with technology, still maintaining the need for the human element.

 

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All Hands on Deck for 2017 Backpacks of Hope

Back to School Can Stir Up Many Emotions

A new school year can bring about many emotions. For parents with kids entering kindergarten or their senior year of high school, the first day of school tends to be showcased on social media as a happy and exciting time. What you may not see though, are the extra hours a parent had to put in at work to get their kid a new backpack, or that the youngest of 4 kids is using her oldest sister’s school supplies from last year because the parents couldn’t afford to get all new ones.

Fresh Start for Kids Each Year

What is supposed to be a fresh start to a new year, can mean stress to their families. For this reason, BlueGrace Logistics has partnered with Metropolitan Ministries for the last 6 years, to collect school supplies for “Backpacks of Hope.”

The average cost of school supplies exceeds $600

The average spend on school supplies exceeds $600 and this expenditure can be a huge struggle for many families, and BlueGrace Logistics wants to help in our communities.

It’s All About the Kids

According to the National Center for Education Statistics “In 2015, approximately 14.7 million children under age 18 were in families living in poverty.”

BlueGrace Logistics has regional offices in Boston, Baltimore, Richmond, L.A. and Chicago with additional branch offices scattered throughout the United States. Most BG offices seek out local charities and generate fundraisers around their specific initiatives.

BlueGrace Chicago has partnered with the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center to raise school supplies for children.

“Our donations only help a fraction of the kids in need throughout the world, but we find hope in the fact that if enough people or organizations like ours, are willing to work together for such a great cause, that number can become much larger,” said Joannah Kalisz, Account Executive, BlueGrace Chicago.

Metropolitan Ministries

Metropolitan Ministries of Tampa Bay, provides backpacks, uniforms, and school supplies to more than 250 children in their care and more than 2,200 in the community at large. All donations help ensure that every child is prepared for the school year.

A backpack carries more than just school supplies.

“Drives like this with Metropolitan Ministries, mean so much to our organization as we have a huge place in our hearts for children and want to make a difference in their lives. Most of our efforts throughout the year focus around children and animals because they are the most vulnerable and don’t always have a voice. said Whitney McKay, Marketing & Brand Manager.

See What BlueGrace has to Say about Backpacks Of Hope

Caring for All Others | It’s What We Do

Core Value number 1 at BlueGrace is Be Caring of All Others and Backpacks of Hope is just one of the many ways we can express that core value. We believe our people make the difference and we strive to create an environment where our employees truly feel like family and feel the urge to help others.

“We understand that when you’re excited about the company you work for and feel like you’re part of a purpose, you’ll inevitably be more fun to work with, loyal and highly effective in your role,” says Whitney McKay, Marketing & Brand Manager at BlueGrace. “Since day one of my six years at BlueGrace there’s been something organic and genuine about our culture. It doesn’t matter how much we grow, you just can’t get the same experience anywhere else.”

We strive to create an environment where our employees truly feel like family and feel the urge to help others.

“Giving back to the community gives us a purpose, it’s a huge part of who we are as an organization. Being caring is engrained in our company culture,” said Courtney Smith, Culture & Engagement Manager at BlueGrace Logistics. “It’s easy to keep the culture alive when you have a core foundation like Bobby has created.” 

Do you want to help?

If you feel the desire to help, no matter how small, please reach out to the organizations below to donate your time, money or supplies.

Metropolitan Ministries – Outreach Center

Tampa, Florida
2301 North Tampa Street
Tampa, FL 33602

813.209.1200

Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center

1240 S. Damen Ave.
Chicago, IL 60608
312.492.3700

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Do you have the right TMS for your business?

 

Transportation Management Systems on the Rise

Whether you’re shipping domestically or internationally, keeping everything running smoothly can be a big job to say the least. It requires a careful orchestration of a potentially vast number of moving parts. The smoother these parts operate in conjunction with one another, the better your operation will be. For that reason, transportation management is essential for domestic and global shippers.

Transportation management is essential for domestic and global shippers.

If we consider the way things have been done in the past in comparison to the new technological advancements that are being developed at an ever-increasing pace, the old school, manual system just isn’t going to cut it any more. Phone calls, faxes, emails, and spreadsheets might have been enough to keep a trucking company running a few decades ago, but now companies who can’t keep pace with the time and technology, will run the risk of being outmoded and left behind.

Companies who can’t keep pace with the time and technology, will run the risk of being outmoded and left behind.

Advancements in Technology

Transportation management technology has come quite some way from what it once was. The myriad of options available for both shippers and 3PLs to choose from for planning and executing systems is massive compared to that of the past. Not only are there more options to choose from, but the speed, cost, and modes that these management systems can be obtained, implemented, and used have also improved.

American Shipper TMS Benchmark

Transportation management systems (TMS) will vary from company to company, depending on what the shippers needs are. A recent benchmark report from American shipper highlights some of the key developments in TMS, including how shippers see the market, the technology they currently use, how they connect with other carriers, and how new transportation technology interacts with the inventory variance created by omnichannel marketing. In short, the nature of shipping and transportation is changing, and shippers will need a different approach to adapt to this market evolution.

When you consider that omnichannel retailing is on the rise, this will make things more difficult for trucking companies as it will require increased flexibility in their supply chain. In fact, only 20 percent of shippers and 30 percent of 3PLs feel that their TMS system can support an omnichannel strategy.

Only 20 percent of shippers and 30 percent of 3PLs feel that their TMS system can support an omnichannel strategy.

The report also highlighted some of the challenges involved with TMS. One of the biggest challenges, according to the respondents revolves around connectivity to outside partners and compatibility with other systems. While having a good TMS is useful, it doesn’t make too much of a difference if it’s only capable of working “in house.”

A Growing Need for TMS

Another startling discovery made by the report is that 40 percent of the respondents aren’t using a TMS or a 3PL to manage their logistics. However, given the coming shift in the market, there is a considerable uptick, 55 percent, in the amount of trucking companies who are beginning to utilize management systems when compared to last year. This is becoming increasingly important as trucking companies begin to shift gears for omnichannel demands which require higher data volumes and increased workload for transportation departments.

40 percent of the study’s respondents, aren’t using a TMS or a 3PL to manage their logistics.

An Industry Leading TMS Is Available For Free

While it’s encouraging to see that the number of companies who are open to using a TMS is on the rise, it’s still worrisome that there are many who don’t. TMS systems are not only improving in ease and speed of implementation, but the cost is also dropping. In fact, there’s even a free transportation management system that’s available to shippers. That’s right, free.

Whether you’re a one-time shipper or ship 7-days a week, the cost is zero to you!

Our proprietary transportation management system, BlueShip, is free! Whether you’re a one-time shipper or ship 7-days a week, the cost is zero to you! Whereas other 3PLs charge anywhere from $3-10K for the use of their TMS. Our system is cloud based, which offers ease of implementation and utilization from system to system and partner to partner. We’re always fine-tuning our system to offer you the best in both reporting and live tracking.

BlueShip Is Free For All BlueGrace Customers

 

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The Future of Same Day Delivery

 

A study commissioned by Intel has given us a glimpse into the economic impact of automated vehicles in the future. The report estimates that by 2050, automated vehicles and the self-driving market will add 7 trillion dollars annually, to the global economy.

By 2050, automated vehicles and the self-driving market will add 7 trillion dollars annually

“With interest from both seasoned and startup automakers, the autonomous vehicle (AV) market is expected to grow exponentially in the coming decades. A new study conducted by research firm Strategy Analytics and commissioned by Intel predicts that driverless vehicles will constitute a $7 trillion economic value by 2050, with $4 trillion from consumer use and another $3 trillion from business use,” says a recent article from Futurism.

The growth of automated vehicles will take place gradually

Futurism goes on to say that such a massive change won’t just happen overnight. The growth of automated vehicles will take place gradually, reaching upwards of $800 billion by 2035.

Trucking Takes the Lion’s Share

While the possibilities for self-driving vehicles are nearly endless, it will be the trucking industry that will see the highest rate of utilization. It’s estimated that the driver shortage rate will continue to climb in both the U.K. as well as the U.S. to a combined total of 300,000 drivers. Many trucking companies will be looking to automated vehicles as a possible solution to the industry-wide talent shortage.

The driver shortage rate will continue to climb in both the U.K. as well as the U.S.

“Transportation companies in many major international markets report that they expect significant shortages over the next several decades for long-haul drivers due to an aging workforce and the lack of qualified new applicants.” In the U.K., the Road Haulage Association estimates that it was short 60,000 lorry drivers in 2016 and that will grow to 100,000 in 2017.

In the U.S., the ATA projects that by 2025, the trucking industry will face an acute shortage of over 200,000 qualified drivers.

Trucking associations in Australia, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom all project that aging workforces and lack of new qualified applicants will intensify driver shortages in these countries in the next 10 to 15 years.

Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association projects that driver shortages will intensify over the next five to 10 years. Driver shortages are intensifying in Brazil and South Africa.  In India, 10 percent of the national truck fleet is currently unused because of a lack of drivers. The [cumulative] shortfall will lead to the need for 17 million more drivers over the next decade,” according to the study conducted by Strategy Analytics.

Driver shortages will intensify over the next five to 10 years.

Additionally, there’s also the consideration that brick and mortar stores are falling to the wayside. As more consumers turn to the internet for their shopping needs, the need for a more adaptive logistics is also on the rise. Retailers gone e-tailers will have to find more efficient means to deliver goods directly to customers making automated vehicles less of luxury and more of necessity.

The Realization of Same Day Delivery

Amazon continues to push the envelope for delivery speeds with the ultimate goal of achieving same day deliveries. Driverless vehicles, specially customized for LTL and parcel carrier services, will operate out of a fixed distribution center allowing them to carry high-volume, high-frequency items that are regularly ordered by consumers. Working within the fixed range of a DC has the possibility to shorten the average delivery time to just a few minutes.

Carry high-volume, high-frequency items that are regularly ordered by consumers

If we combine this localized supply chain with other venues such as drone delivery, same day delivery for a wider array of parcels, packages, and general consumer goods become a reality. Factor in that automated vehicles and drones won’t be subjected to the same HoS regulations as a human driver, shipping companies can see a higher level of efficiency through extended service hours at a much lower cost.

Shipping companies can see a higher level of efficiency through extended service hours at a much lower cost.

Of course, as the demand for automated vehicles continues to rise, there will also be a rise in the concern over displaced drivers. However, while it might seem like drivers would be phased out entirely with automated vehicles, there will still be a need for human involvement. This is what Strategy Analytics has to say about driver displacement:

“Drivers in these industries are likely to be displaced in significant numbers. However, it will also create opportunities for transportation companies to utilize the “freed” time of drivers to evolve and enhance their role and impact to the organization.

Drivers will become customer service professionals who can sell and market services and related goods and offerings

“In high-touch and high-turnover routes, drivers will become customer service professionals who can sell and market services and related goods and offerings. Drivers will also transition to become supply chain experts by extending inventory management and order processing. What is clear is that proactive transportation companies should explore these opportunities and plan for the re-training and balancing of their workforces.”

 

 

 

 

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Amazon’s Logistics Just Got A Whole (Foods) Lot Bigger

As companies go, there are few that have the prowess to grow and advance quite like Amazon. With a unique talent for turning a company-based product into a full-fledged service for customers, i.e. Amazon Cloud; the e-commerce giant continues to make a colossal shadow for other companies to try and follow. So what’s the newest thing to peek out of Amazon’s growing bag of tricks? How about buying out the organic grocery chain: Whole Foods.

An Eating of Words

Looking back through history, there have been a number of times where a CEO of a company simply brushed off their competition. A recent article from Stratechery has an amusing little anecdote to highlight just such an occasion.

“Back in 2006, when the iPhone was a mere rumor, Palm CEO Ed Colligan was asked if he was worried: ‘We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone,’ he said. ‘PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.’ What if Steve Jobs’ company did bring an iPod phone to market? Well, it would probably use WiFi technology and could be distributed through the Apple stores and not the carriers like Verizon or Cingular, Colligan theorized.”

Oddly enough, the CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey, said something very similar pertaining to Amazon’s ability to fine tune their logistics capabilities to groceries only two years ago. So what changed that has now put the entirety of Whole Foods under Amazon’s control?

It’s because they misunderstood their competitions motives and goals.

The Evolution of Amazon

When Amazon first started back in 1997, their mission statement was simple: “Amazon.com’s objective is to be the leading online retailer of information-based products and services, with an initial focus on books.”

Which then grew into:

“Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric-company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”

While their initial mission statement seemed rather unambitious, what their current goal is now is certainly a lot grander. So what does that have to do with them buying Whole Foods, other than it gives them another product to offer online? Simple. A chance, to flex their logistics muscles.

Amazon Brand Logistics

Given the massive size and scope of Amazon’s delivery radius, it only makes sense that they would develop a logistics network. After all, that’s pretty much how their cloud computing service started, as an in-house function which eventually became sophisticated enough to market out to their competitors. While having a logistics network is all well and good, being able to deliver groceries and other perishables in a timely manner is something entirely different. Fortunately, Amazon’s logistics capabilities have grown to the point that they are now ranked the second largest logistics company in the world. Not only do they have the assets in place to handle groceries, but with Whole Foods under their wing, Amazon has set the stage to be the household provider of… well… everything.

Amazon has set the stage to be the household provider of… well… everything.

The Whole Foods Overlay

So how effectively can Amazon get into grocery logistics? Books and home goods don’t have an expiration date the way that groceries do, so making the switch seems like a colossal undertaking, right? Well, not exactly. The truth behind the trick is that Amazon isn’t necessarily buying a food retail outlet, but rather they have purchased their very own best customer. In much the same way that Amazon built their web service as “in house” Amazon Fresh will be similar. Turning their logistics structure into supplying Whole Foods will create the architecture necessary to branch out into other markets including restaurants.

Amazon has purchased their very own best customer

“In the long run, physical grocery stores will be only one of the Amazon Grocery Services’ customers: obviously a home delivery service will be another, and it will be far more efficient than a company like Instacart trying to layer on top of Whole Foods’ current integrated model,” says Ben Thompson from Stratechery.

“I suspect Amazon’s ambitions stretch further, though: Amazon Grocery Services will be well-placed to start supplying restaurants too, gaining Amazon access to another big cut of economic activity. It is the AWS model, which is to say it is the Amazon model, but like AWS, the key to profitability is having a first-and-best customer able to utilize the massive investment necessary to build the service out in the first place,” he added.

At the end of the day, we have to realize that Amazon is simply a service provider.

At the end of the day, we have to realize that Amazon is simply a service provider. Even their grocery services are simply another service offering that is built on and therefore protected by the scale of it. Purchasing Whole Foods has given Amazon a wide enough landing pad to pull off grocery chain logistics because of the size of their primary customer.

Grocery Chain Logistics

Are you a company that ships products to grocery chains? Do you find yourself with costly carrier invoices or freight reclassification? BlueGrace recently partnered with a company that specializes in creating healthy, protein-rich treats and was having these exact issues, and many more.

After partnering with BlueGrace, they saw a 14% reduction in transportation costs, an annual savings of $225,000

We saw several opportunities to cut their costs and improve their bottom line. Find out how this company was able to find over 14% reduction in transportation costs, an annual savings of $225,000, when they allowed BlueGrace to optimize their supply chain.

 

How a Grocery shipper saw a 14% reduction in transportation costs

 

 

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Filling the Gap: Ways to Improve the Shortage of Truck Drivers

 

With the median age for truck drivers pushing retirement and a severe shortage of drivers, to begin with, the U.S. Department of Transportation is putting forth two proposals. According to a recent press release from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, these proposals will make it easier for qualified applicants to earn their commercial driver’s license.

The first proposal is simple.

Any qualified veterans or active duty personnel can have the knowledge test waived. This allows veterans and returning soldiers to have an easier time finding work as truck drivers and bus operators and will make it easier for them to transition into civilian life.

This allows veterans and returning soldiers to have an easier time finding work

The second proposal calls for simplifying the process.

Simplifying the process to obtain a CDL will not only make it easier for drivers to find work but will also lower costs for both state driver’s licensing agencies as well for the applicant.

Simplifying the process to obtain a CDL

“Taken together, these two proposals will help ease the entry for thousands of qualified individuals into career opportunities as professional truck and bus drivers – a critical occupation facing an acute labor shortage in our country,” said FMCSA Deputy Administrator Daphne Jefferson. “We could eliminate unnecessary burdens to both the applicants and the states, save time, reduce costs and, most importantly, ensure that states only issue commercial driver’s licenses to well-trained, highly qualified individuals.”

Earn a Learner’s Permit

Under the new proposal, states can issue a CDL learner’s permit, with a one-year expiration date, which goes beyond the current six-month limitation. The added time cuts down on excessive costs and paperwork incurred by DOT agencies. It also eliminates re-testing and other additional fees accrued from renewals.

It also eliminates re-testing and other additional fees

“At the core of both proposals is the safety of the motoring public. We will continue to demand that commercial truck and bus drivers, and their employers, adhere to the safety standards that exist to protect all drivers,” Jefferson added.

A Much Needed Boost

With truck driving being one of the most preeminent professions in the United States, having such a severe shortage of drivers has put a serious hurting on the trucking industry. With 75 percent of all freight in the United States is being transported and delivered via trucks, anything that can fill the hole in personnel will come as a boon to the industry.

Having such a severe shortage of drivers has put a serious hurting on the trucking industry

Will Self-Driving Trucks Eliminate the Need for Drivers?

There is another consideration for the trucking industry. Concern for the future of truck drivers has been growing as the technology continues to develop. Many are worried that as self-driving trucks take to the roads, there will be no need for drivers. With 1 percent of the total labor force in the United States is being made up of truck drivers, phasing all drivers out of the picture would result in unemployment rates rising. However, there are many who believe that this alarmist prediction is a bit premature. In fact, with the disruptive technology coming to bare, there’s a lot of new potentials out there for the future.

There are many who believe that this alarmist prediction is a bit premature

“When the personal computer came out in the ’80s, people freaked out over that. It created new jobs, new industries, and it redefined certain jobs,” says Cathy Morrow Roberson, head analyst for Logistics Trends and Insights in an article from Trucks.com. “I think the same thing is going to happen with the trucking industry. I think it’s going to get sexy enough for the younger generation to want to get involved.”

Without a doubt, there is a significant change coming to the trucking industry. However, as with almost every disruptive breakthrough, the changes will unlock new potentials for the industry, strengthening it as a whole.

 

 

 

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Do You Have The Right Technology To Dissect Big Data?

 

For what was once a stagnant industry for best practices, the freight industry is now being bombarded with new disruptive technology on a near constant basis. Dealing with one issue means that another takes its place. Begin to understand and utilize new technology, and it becomes quickly outmoded, or there’s another system to learn. Even the roster of companies is constantly changing, old players, leaving and new ones rushing in to fill the void.

Dealing with one issue means that another takes its place.

With such a constant back and forth, it would be all too easy to simply stick to what you know and call it a day, especially from a technological perspective. However, those old ways, comfortable though they may be, are a road to ruin. Companies who embrace innovation and new technology will part ways with companies that rely on “traditional” methods.

Additionally, these “pioneering spirits” for the industry are providing new options for customers that simply can’t be matched by the old school. The industry is evolving, which means shippers and carriers need to be on board or be left behind.

The Keys to the Data Stream

Big data is a term that gets thrown around a lot, especially now with the changes in industry technology. Now more than ever, the supply chain can provide more data and insight into the process than ever before. More ways of tracking data can show where weak points are within the supply chain. Whether it be driver, loading or unloading, traffic issues, road conditions or damaged shipments, everything is being monitored for efficiency. Whenever a change in address comes in from head office, it can be pushed to the driver or captain in real-time. The system automatically calculates and optimizes the ideal and cheapest new routing to the new destination.

More ways of tracking data can show where weak points are within the process

Part of adapting to the changes that are happening within the transportation industry is to know which data is useful and which data isn’t. While collecting data is all well and good, there is such a thing as too much data (TMD), which can be overwhelming when trying to decipher it all.

Which data is useful and which data isn’t.

“Collecting too much data is a problem, because it forces a company to spend valuable resources gathering and understanding data, much of which is likely to not be impactful from a bottom line or service level perspective. It also creates a secondary problem that’s just as harmful—the valuable data can be lost in the avalanche of meaningless information,” according to American Shipper.

Having the Right System in Place

So what can you do to protect yourself from data overload? Well, it’s all about having the right system in place to make sure you’re collecting only the data that you’ll need and weeding out all the rest. Having access to the right data at the right time can prevent problems before they start and, more often than not, many of the issues for transportation come from poor planning.

It’s all about having the right system in place

One of the most instrumental uses for new technology is a transportation management system (TMS) which can give companies an edge when planning their logistics. Not only does this allow for a better insight into customer experiences and needs, but it also provides the necessary information to correct an issue before it becomes a more serious problem. Additionally, a good TMS can also help bridge the gap between shippers and carriers, saving both time and money when it comes to transportation.

American Shipper recently released a report about combating the volatility of transportation and part of their suggestion is the use of TMS.

“Shippers are realizing daily that transportation management systems (TMSs) are both more necessary and more affordable than ever before. Even the simplest of transportation networks could benefit from optimization and automation of data entry functions. But these TMSs are also becoming more hyper-reliant on outside sources of data to reach their peak usefulness. So a shipper can’t just simply plug a TMS in and let the magic happen. It has to actively feed that TMS with useful, forward-looking, and reliable data.”

All of this to say that armed with the right data and a strong TMS, a shipper can take their business much further.

BlueGrace Proprietary TMS – BlueShip®

The easiest way to get started utilizing your valuable shipping data is with a full featured TMS, such as BlueShip. BlueGrace’s proprietary technology is designed to put the power of easy supply chain management and optimization back in your hands. BlueShip® offers cutting-edge tools for strong reliability and quick performance. Our customers are especially impressed with the user experience, which is completely customizable and has real-time updates, giving them a single source tool for tracking, addressing, and product listing.

BlueShip Is Free For All BlueGrace Customers

 

 

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Automated Trucking is Poised to Play Huge Roll in Transportation Industry

Navigating the Transition to Driverless Trucking

Automated trucking is poised to play a huge roll in the transportation industry. Overall, the implications of driverless trucks have near limitless potential. Without the margin of human error, autonomous trucks are safer and more efficient. Working in tandem for one another, driverless trucks can capitalize on fuel efficiency while working around the clock bringing in more deliveries at a fraction of the labor cost.

Driverless trucks can capitalize on fuel efficiency while working around the clock

However, while the end goal of automated trucking in the freight industry has some incredible possibilities, it’s the transition to this point that has more than a few people worried. Given that driverless vehicles is something of a precedent, there’s a lot of obstacles to overcome before the idea becomes a reality.

The Un(der)employed 

Job loss is a very large possibility with automated trucking. As truck drivers make up 1% of the total U.S. labor force, the volume of displaced workers will be severe. Mitigating the job loss and the potential impact of unemployment rates will be a key element to the transition to automated trucking.

Truck drivers make up 1% of the total U.S. labor force

More often than not, whenever there is a potential for massive job displacement, the words to follow are “There are other jobs to be had.”  While this is true for some industries, it might not necessarily hold true for truck drivers. These, according to the International Transportation Forum’s report on the matter, are the possible obstacles to this “conventional wisdom.”

“The conventional argument is that displaced workers in any given industry will find alternative employment through the expansion of activity in new and existing industries. However, there are several reasons described below as to why this argument may not provide comfort for truck drivers and others in the high-automation scenarios.” 

  • The high costs associated with losing a job
  • The risk that this time is different, i.e. that a low employment future is possible, at least temporarily, because automation may occur in many sectors of the economy
  • The emerging economic context means that job losses may result in higher social costs than previously.

The cost of losing a job alone represents one of the biggest issues, both on a financial and physical scale. Displaced workers, on average, take a 20% drop in annual wages. Additionally, being displaced from a job is often a trigger for both anxiety and depression according to the ITF report.

The cost of losing a job alone represents one of the biggest issues

“The mental and physical impacts of job loss are estimated to have a greater combined impact on well-being than the financial costs from lost income. Helliwell and Huang (2014) estimate that such non-financial factors decrease the average person’s well-being two to seven times more than the does their lost income from losing their job.”

Infrastructure Challenges

In addition to the unemployment costs of automated trucking, there is some considerable concern about the infrastructure that will be required to support automated freight transportation.

“The infrastructure requirements for full automation of driving functions are not yet clear-cut (section “Towards driverless road freight”). The need for 5G mobile internet connectivity between vehicles along the full corridor is not yet certain. Further, specific applications such as platooning and remote control centre operations are also likely to have additional infrastructure requirements. For instance, platooning may require longer motorway entry and exit ramps than are currently in place (Janssen et al., 2015).”

A possible solution to this obstacle would be to roll out test corridors to slowly integrate autonomous trucks, which would significantly lower the upfront costs. However, as the technology grows in both sophistication and popularity, the overall costs will be both substantial and unmitigatable.

The Foreseeable Future

As it stands, the technology, policies, and regulations are not in place to fully support automated freight hauling. However, in the not-so-distant future, these questions and obstacles will need to be addressed in order for these driverless trucks to take the road. As with most disruptive technologies, it will be the transitional period that will be the hardest to accommodate.

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Adapting to the Growing Requirements of a Fast-Paced Supply Chain

 

With the constant fluctuations in the global market, the freight industry is changing. With new technology, shipping demands, and changes in global policies, freight forwarders will also have to change to keep the pace. Logistics Trends and Insights has released their 2017 survey on the Evolution of the Freight Forwarder, which asked respondents how the freight forwarder is changing.

With the constant fluctuations in the global market, the freight industry is changing

“Indeed, the market is not only undergoing a redefinition, but it also has literally been caught in the middle of global, political and economic changes. Shifts in political thought favoring protectionism or populism, along with continued concerns within the ocean and air freight markets, have led many forwarders to seek acquisitions, new services, and new geographies in order to stay afloat. While gross revenues and volumes for many forwarders grew in the past year or so, they came at a price with lower profits and in some cases, a financial loss,” the report says.

What obstacles will forwarders have to overcome?

As the market continues to shift, what obstacles will forwarders have to overcome to keep pace with the changes within the freight industry?

Critical Pain Points for Forwarders

The major obstacles for forwarders according to the respondents, can be broken down into four categories. Tight margins make up the bulk of forwarders woes with 42 percent marking that as their primary concern. Rates and uncertain global environment are almost tied at 23 and 22 percent respectively. The remaining 13 percent lists capacity as their top concern, something which has been troubling the industry as a whole over the past few years.

Changing Customer Expectations

Of course, it isn’t just the market that is changing, but also the expectations of customers. The average consumer wants their products sooner and at a lower cost. To adapt, shippers need to push their supply chain in a new direction which means that forwarders have to be able to respond in kind. So what are customer expectations for a freight forwarder?

Shippers need to push their supply chain in a new direction

“Forwarders are indeed facing many challenges, but we must not forget the value they bring to the table. A new question for this year, we asked, “What do customers value most from a forwarder?” The majority of respondents, 33.7%, indicated trade expertise.

Visibility of cargo movements and ease and timeliness in booking freight

We found this interesting as it seems to play into the evolving definition of a forwarder as a facilitator, value-adder and a consultant. However, 45% of the responses were split among low rates, visibility of cargo movements and ease and timeliness in booking freight while 21.3% indicated additional thoughts including all of these choices, credibility, communication, and control, analysis, development of supply chain solutions.”

Changing Transportation

Another aspect of changing expectations from customers is that they want more ways to move their freight. As such, forwarders have to be able to provide multiple modes of transportation that best suit the customer’s needs. As a result, forwarders are seeing some changes in revenues based on modes of transportation.

Forwarders are seeing some changes in revenues based on modes of transportation.

Air transport is one of the biggest growing sectors of market gain shares for forwarders at 42.3 percent of the responses. Given the uncertainty of ocean shipping, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that ocean freight has been on the decline for forwarders. Rail and trucking haven’t changed all that much. However, there has been a slight increase in rail use with 33 percent of responses indicating growth while only 14 percent have marked down that it was in decline.

Opportunities For Growth

Of course, the object of any successful business is to differentiate themselves from the competition. Niche markets are one strategy that some forwarders are going with, catering to specific needs of their customers, other forwarders might not be able to offer. However, 44.3 percent of the respondents said that their differentiation strategy would be to invest in new technology.

The object of any successful business is to differentiate themselves from the competition

“Indeed, technology is playing a major role in forwarders’ evolution. DB Schenker’s investment in UShip, DHL’s launch of its online freight marketplace CILLOX and even FedEx’s introduction of FedEx Fulfillment are all redefining the way items are fulfilled, booked and shipped.”

There is also the growing need for e-commerce fulfillment which will provide many opportunities for forwarders to attain desired growth in both fulfillment as well as cross-border services.

Overall, the need for freight forwarders will only continue to grow

Overall, the need for freight forwarders will only continue to grow, especially if they can continue to adapt to the growing requirements of a faster-paced supply chain as well as providing the necessary flexibility required for e-commerce fulfillment.

To request your copy of the white-paper, click here.

 

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The Real Threat for the Trucking Industry has Nothing to do with the ELD

 

 

The electronic logging mandate (ELD) has been something of a sore subject for the trucking industry as many companies worry about it cutting into their efficiency and, subsequently, profit margins. However, the real threat for the trucking industry has nothing to do with the ELD, but rather the growth of e-commerce.

Changing the Game: Amazon

Amazon has a gift when it comes for shaking up expectations. Same day delivery or even one to two hour deliveries for groceries in select cities is giving trucking companies a run for their money, quite literally in some cases. As the expectations for consumers shift towards instant delivery and omni channel shopping, trucking companies that lose sight of what’s really going on are risking being knocked out the game by e-commerce companies.

Last year alone, e-commerce sales reached $394.9 billion, a 15% growth from 2015.

Last year alone, e-commerce sales reached $394.9 billion, a 15% growth from 2015. The 2016 e-commerce sales volume accounted for 8.1% of all U.S. retail sales and is continuing to grow. As for Amazon, the e-commerce giant underwent a huge growth spurt, up to 27% in sales volume, netting a cool $2.4 billion in profit, well above the 2015 figure of $594 million.

Amazon is outpacing most trucking companies and completely reshaping the market landscape in their image.

This is, in part, due to the fact that Amazon carries just about any product a consumer could ever want, which makes for convenient one stop shopping. With their growing logistics and delivery capabilities, Amazon is outpacing most trucking companies and completely reshaping the market landscape in their image.

Hot on the Heels

Amazon and Wal-Mart are usually the frontline runners when it comes to e-commerce sales and headlines, but they aren’t the only ones in the game. Many brick and mortar stores are starting to tap into the potential of e-commerce and omni-channel sales in order to stay viable. Best Buy, for example, made some considerable investments to their online sales, increased their e-commerce volume by 17.5% which then boosted their online sales by 21% according to the Motley Fool.  Other companies such as Macy’s and Home Depot are also starting to boost their e-commerce capabilities, offering their customers new ways to shop and more convenient ways to pick up their goods.

Many brick and mortar stores are starting to tap into the potential of e-commerce and omni-channel sales.

Trucking in Trouble

If a disruptive change is a good thing for an industry, e-commerce is presenting a destructive change for the trucking industry. Consider Amazon’s unparalleled purchasing power, while the increase in e-commerce sales might seem like a good thing for the trucking, Amazon is able to pursue a low-cost model for trucking.

E-commerce is presenting a destructive change for the trucking industry

“First, core carriers and dedicated carriers appear to be used by Amazon only in cases where brokers cannot find cheaper capacity in the open market,” said John Larkin, managing director and head of transportation capital markets research for Stifel Capital Markets. “This is a new, less attractive version of what core carriers and dedicated fleets traditionally represented [and] we have heard that several carriers have backed away from this customer for this reason.”

“[The truckload market] is still tough; excess capacity continues to exist, prolonging a very competitive pricing environment,” Larkin adds. “Trucking companies are still having trouble finding drivers and, to boot, poor weather is troubling the first quarter,” according to a recent post from FleetOwner.

The logistics industry as a whole is undergoing a considerable culture shock.

With the rapid growth and development of e-commerce sales, the logistics industry as a whole is undergoing a considerable culture shock. The tried and true method is rapidly vanishing as consumers demand faster deliveries from more locations. Distribution and warehousing centers are being to slow down and many are closing their doors for good. Unless the trucking industry is able to find a way to cope with these new changes, in addition to the hurdles they already have to clear, there could be a cataclysmic upheaval in the way we look at logistics.

 

 

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BlueGrace Logistics Hosts Open House Event

Photo Cred: Dosia White Photography

Since it’s inception in January of 2009, BlueGrace has provided transportation management services for companies that ship. From one-time-shippers to multi-million dollar accounts, BlueGrace works to make each customer’s business, better. Over the last 8 years, BlueGrace has opened its doors to vendors and customers alike, but never in this capacity.

Over the last 8 years, BlueGrace has opened its doors to vendors and customers alike, but never in this capacity.

On Friday, June 2, BlueGrace Logistics hosted an Open House and invited local vendors, partners, customers and potential customers to see both the recent building expansion and the rebranding efforts.

While BlueGrace is no stranger to a good time, this event proved to be one for the record books.

Nearly 350 people, including BlueGrace employees, enjoyed food provided by a Tampa favorite — Datz, uniquely crafted coffee by the Coffee Divas, music by Wild Out Entertainment, Tampa Bay Lightning alumni Bryan Bradley, Thunderbug and the Lightning Girls.

Being the preferred shipper of the Tampa Bay Lightning has its perks.

“Our partnership with the Lightning has provided us with some incredible opportunities for our employees, customers and vendors, and having Tampa Bay hockey legend Bryan Bradley draw up a hockey play on our white board, was probably one of the coolest things about the Open House,” said Adam White, Director of Marketing at BlueGrace Logistics.

Welcome to BlueGrace Logistics

Guests were welcomed into the new, state-of-the-art reception lobby that tripled in size since the buildout.

Photo Cred: Dosia White Photography & BlueGrace Employees Social Media Posts

“We didn’t just usher our guests to the party, we wanted to show them our growth with an exclusive tour of the newly expanded, 55,000 sq ft building,” said Whitney McKay, Marketing and Brand Manager at BlueGrace Logistics. “Our conference rooms, collaborative spaces, and breakrooms have unique names and we wanted to explain to our guests, what these rooms meant to us and our culture.” McKay, continued.

The tour started in the “OG” breakroom appropriately named “Comfortably Numb” where guests were offered to partake in a BlueGrace culture staple “Free Beer Friday”.

“Our leadership allows us to endulge after a long, hard week at work. Every Friday at 3 o’clock, our employees participate in ‘Free Beer Friday’ and are allowed to drink some beer at their desk to close out their work week,” said Beth Clark, Content Manager at BlueGrace Logistics. “This culture is something we needed to share with our guests to understand the machine that is BlueGrace.”

Humane Society of Tampa Bay Adoptables

Photo Cred: Dosia White Photography & BlueGrace Employees Social Media Posts

Groups of 10-15 guests were taken through the brief, yet extremely successful history of BlueGrace as they walked through the expansive office space. Halfway down the nearly eighth-of-a-mile long office building, they were greeted by the Humane Society of Tampa Bay and their adoptable animals.

BlueGrace Logistics Loves Animals and the Partnership with HSTB is always top-of-mind so they were a perfect addition to the Open House event.

Our Culture is Unmatched

Collaborative spaces, state-of-the-art training and conference rooms, and free beer isn’t all we offer our employees. The final stop on the tour for our guests — Paradise City.

The final stop on the tour for our guests — Paradise City.

“This breakroom is a space for our employees to take a break during the work day and either relax in an oversized bean bag, play a game of ping-pong or to shoot some corn-hole.” said McKay.

Photo Cred: Dosia White Photography & BlueGrace Employees Social Media Posts

When walking into the breakroom, Paradise City, guests were cheerfully greeted by some of the Tampa Bay Lightning Girls, TB Alumni Bryan Bradley, and their famed mascot, Thunderbug.

“You could feel the energy. The event was supposed to show our guests what it’s like to work at BlueGrace and to Celebrate our Growth; I feel like we nailed it.” said White.

Food, Fun and Entertainment

When planning an event, there are boxes that need to be checked, and food comes to the top of that list. Datz, a Tampa Bay staple, was the perfect business to partner with for this exclusive Open House event.

“If you haven’t eaten at Datz and you live in the Tampa Bay area, you are missing out.” said Clark.

The menu was filled with some of their best dishes, including their famous Mac N Cheese bun burgers. BlueGrace and Datz also worked together to create a signature drink for special guests, the Blueberry Mule.

“The Blueberry Mule was such a hit with everyone. They were so refreshing and the perfect addition to the event menu.” said Tracy Guida, Catering Manager at Datz Tampa.

The other amazing food and beverage vendors included the Coffee Divas Mobile Catering and one of BlueGrace’s very own Sarah Sweeney, Supervisor of Credit & Billing.

“Before BlueGrace, I was a pastry chef at Jackson’s and other local bakeries.” continued Sweeney. “I have sort of become the in-house baker and I love every second of it.”

While the food and drinks were definitely a hit, we can’t forget the musical tracks that kept the party going.

Photo Cred: Dosia White Photography

DJ Papi of Wild Out Entertainment came to us as a recommendation and he did not disappoint. Our playlist in the office on a normal day, was brought to life and he did a fabulous job.” said Clark.

A Huge Thank You to Our Guests

While we certainly love throwing a party, we couldn’t do any of this without you. BlueGrace Logistics believes that we can make any business better and by providing a unique and fun space for our employees and a culture that encourages them to provide unmatched service, we can do just that.

Thank you to everyone who made it out to our headquarters office in Riverview, Florida. To our vendors, customers, employees, and partners — Thank you for all that you do!

Want to Work at BlueGrace Logistics?

Our shipments aren’t the only things going places! BlueGrace employees strive to excel at every opportunity. So we surround them with the kind of fun, positive, and creatively stimulating experiences that’ll further ignite their ambitions. If you Pursue Outrageous Goals and are Caring of All Others, apply for a career at BlueGrace Logistics.

APPLY HERE  – Today!

Open House Event Photos >> Courtesy of Dosia White Photography. 

 

 

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Last Mile Becoming the Front Line for Logistics

The growing strength of e-commerce has been putting a serious pressure on the transportation industry. As customer expectations are rapidly shifting towards the instant gratification of same day delivery, long haul trucking is shrinking by comparison. While some trucking companies are struggling to keep the pace with the changing market, others are shifting gears and switching their tactics. The game is changing for carriers and forwarders. It’s no longer about the journey but instead it’s all about the final mile.

It’s no longer about the journey but instead it’s all about the final mile.

So what exactly is the “last mile?” It’s pretty much just what it sounds like. Last mile deliveries are when the package makes the final leg of its journey straight to the customer’s preferred location. The caveat is that customer’s preferred location and item of choice are changing constantly. One day a customer might have a new keyboard delivered to their office, while the next day they might have some new workout equipment delivered to their home. In either instance, logistics providers, carriers, and freight forwarders need to find ways to get the package where it needs to go in the shortest amount of time possible.

Logistics providers, carriers, and freight forwarders need to find ways to get the package where it needs to go in the shortest amount of time possible.

The Short Stop Over the Long Haul

As the demands of e-commerce and last mile deliveries continue to grow, the trucking industry is at the precipice of change. The old way of distributing goods across the country by smaller fleets is fading.  Instead of simply bringing goods to a DC or warehouse, trucking companies are starting to favor the short haul, multi-stop nature of last mile deliveries in response to the growing need of e-commerce companies. The industry is growing rapidly. According to the Census Bureau  US E-Commerce Sales as Percent of Retail Sales is at a current level of 8.50%, up from 8.20% last quarter.

Instead of simply bringing goods to a DC or warehouse, trucking companies are starting to favor the short haul, multi-stop nature of last mile

Amazon alone is shaping up to control over 50% of the e-commerce market by 2021, with cause the demand for last mile deliveries to continue to grow exponentially. By switching modes of deliveries traditional long-haul companies are able to capture more of the e-commerce market share and for those that are perfecting their system, it’s making an incredible difference.

An Imperfect System

While last mile deliveries are certainly in vogue, they still leave something to be desired in terms of efficiency. For starters, the last mile isn’t something that has a set route or pattern. Instead, it’s constantly shifting and changing. While a package might be going to the same place, it could be coming from a different location, which can drastically alter the delivery time. Additionally, because the last mile of delivery is constantly changing, that also means that rates can vary rather drastically. This can create some difficulties when it comes to negotiations between both shippers and carriers alike.

Because the last mile of delivery is constantly changing, that also means that rates can vary rather drastically.

As if that wasn’t enough, there are other challenges that surround last mile deliveries. If a customer isn’t available at home to sign for a package, it could add to a backlog of deliveries. Package theft can increase shrink for shippers while lowering reliability ratings of carriers. Urban congestion and traffic can also cause some serious delays, making it that much harder to meet customer and consumer expectations alike. 

Alternative Methods of Delivery

While there are still some issues to work out, many delivery companies are working on finding alternative methods for completing the last mile. Drones have been in the headlines for quite some time as a viable means of delivering packages and Amazon has been getting closer to their goal of a drone delivery fleet.  Interestingly enough, the e-commerce giant has been taking a keen interest to geese of late. To better calibrate their drone systems to avoid collisions and other incidents, Amazon has been studying geese as a “non collaborative” control object or, simply put, something else to train their drones to avoid.

Amazon has been studying geese as a “non collaborative” control object or, simply put, something else to train their drones to avoid.

Aside from the drones, ground based delivery bots are also in the works, allowing deliveries to be made directly to a customer’s home via an autonomous system. These delivery bots are capable of navigating through residential areas via crosswalks and sidewalks. With deliveries made directly to a customer’s door step, it can expedite the last mile delivery process without necessarily cranking up the labor time.

However, there are other means of making the last mile that don’t rely on expensive assets like drones or delivery bots. Crowdsourcing apps are giving people looking to make a little extra money the chance to moonlight as a package handler.

“In 2015, venture capital investments in supply chain and logistics start-ups was more than four times higher than in 2014 ($1.2 billion versus $388 million),” said Andre Pharand, Andre Pharand, Accenture’s global management consulting lead for the postal and parcel industry. “Venture capital dollars invested in the same space in the first quarter of 2016 alone was $1.75 billion.Companies like UberRUSH for parcels, Postmates, Deliv and even Amazon Flex provide spot-market deliveries by independent drivers. The companies post delivery jobs on their apps to alert drivers to available gigs,” according to Supply Chain Dive.

Legacy Trucking Companies Beware

Legacy trucking companies who still think that e-commerce isn’t something to be concerned about are going to be in for a rude awakening. E-commerce is only continuing to grow and many brick and mortar are looking into omni-channel options in order to stay viable. Failing to adapt to this considerable disruption of the logistics industry will lead to considerable hardships in the future. Last mile deliveries are becoming the frontrunner for logistics focus as e-commerce continues to grow.

E-commerce is only continuing to grow and many brick and mortar are looking into omni-channel options

 

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What Can We Expect for the IoT for 2017 and Beyond?

The IoT of 2017

The Internet of Things, an interconnected program that is supposed to provide unparalleled data for shippers and carriers, has certainly been a hot topic for the logistics industry. With 2016 well and truly in the past, it’s time to start looking forward to what 2017 will hold for this burgeoning system. What new changes can we expect? How do these expectations compare to what we thought the system could do for us in the past? With a new partnership between Intel’s logistics platform and Honeywell’s hardware and cloud services, the IoT is beginning to really take shape.

What new changes can we expect?

The Partnership

The newly formed partnership, announced last Thursday, will marry Intel’s connected Logistics platform to Honeywell’s Connected Freight Solution. Data gathered by this new system will allow shippers to track products from start to finish. However, this system ranges far beyond the simple tracking capabilities of a truck or pallet. Users will be able to track a number of different variables including: temperature, shock, vibration, tilt, humidity, pressure, and exposure to light. If freight gets damaged during transit, a shipper will be able to know when, where, and how it happened. That alone can prove invaluable when it comes to preparing damage audits and projecting yearly PNLs.

Data gathered by this new system will allow shippers to track products from start to finish.

With data being tracked by a number of low cost sensors, part of the Intel/Honeywell package, users will have access not only to data on demand, but data that is pre-drilled down to useful data points that a company can act on.

Past Predictions for the IoT

While there have always been high hopes for the IoT, the expectations for it’s potential have changed throughout the past few years.

“Several years ago the market for connected products and services was promising eye popping growth numbers of up to 100 billion units. Today, a majority of forecasts show a more tampered 20 billion or 30 billion units (while a few others say we are saying we are still severely underestimating size of impact),” according to an article from Postscapes regarding IoT market forecasts.

Cyber security is also expected to become a boom market

What’s interesting to note from this article is that while the IoT is expected to grow by leaps and bounds, it’s not a standalone technology. Included in these forecasts is also expectations for sensor technology, cloud computing, and cellular capabilities will also continue to grow and expand. Cyber security is also expected to become a boom market as the sensitivity of data continues to rise.

On the Rise for 2017

So what can we expect for the IoT for 2017 and points beyond? Forbes has quite a few predictions that are worth considering. For starters, this year is going to see a lot of shake ups as new companies trying to get in on the game either make the cut, or get swallowed up by larger, more stable companies. As the IoT is now past proof-of-concept, there will soon be regulations and standardization to contend with as well. These regulations won’t be static either, as the technology continues to grow and evolve so will the standards being applied to them. As the IoT continues to grow and take shape, companies will need to embrace the new technology swiftly or fall behind the competition as supply chains and logistics fully enter into the digital realm.

Companies will need to embrace the new technology swiftly or fall behind the competition

 

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Tampa Manufacturing and Logistics – A Perfect Marriage.

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

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

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

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

Manufacturing Growth Perfect for 3PLs

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

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

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

E-Commerce Puts Pressure on Logistics

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

The Value of Business Intelligence

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

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

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

Job Opportunities for the Future Generations

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

Optimization and Forward Thinking Manufacturers

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

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BlueGrace Logistics Employees Raise Over $11,000 for Moffitt Cancer Center

Cancer SUCKS

Cancer is a nasty word and yet you hear it or see it every day. Your friends, family and acquaintances have all been affected by this word in some way, shape, or form. In 2017, almost 1.7 million new cases of cancer are projected. We need to find a cure for this awful disease and this is why organizations like Moffitt Cancer Center exist.

Their mission is to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer! 

The Moffitt Cancer Center provides Tampa with opportunities to fundraise for cancer research and BlueGrace Logistics is no stranger to fundraising and charitable events. Especially if there is a race involved.

“It’s a huge part of who we are as an organization. Fundraising and participating in events like these, are engrained in our company culture,” said Courtney Smith, Manager of Culture and Engagement at BlueGrace Logistics.

This is the 3rd year BlueGrace has participated in M4M.

Since 2006, the annual Miles for Moffitt event has been a great way for the Tampa community, and friends from all over the country, to come together for fun, fitness, and to support lifesaving cancer research at Moffitt Cancer Center.

“Every dollar ever raised through registration fees and donations — more than $3.2 million so far! — has gone directly to empower our scientists and researchers to do the work that is uncovering cancer’s secrets, developing new and more effective treatments, and bringing closer the day when cancer is no longer a diagnosis to be feared.” said a Moffitt Cancer Center Rep.

So How did BlueGrace Raise the Money?

Now, BlueGrace isn’t your typical company so we don’t do your “typical fundraising”. Our fundraising efforts don’t begin and end with a bake sale.

Our fundraising efforts don’t begin and end with a bake sale.

“We do this thing called the Executive Drag Contest, where money is donated to 6 executives and the top 3 with the most money raised, dress up in drag the day before the race.” said Smith. “It’s really a sight to see and everyone gets into it.”

Along with drag contests and bake sales the company participated in Drag Queen Bingo at Hamburger Mary’s in Ybor, multiple raffles throughout the office, a rap battle contest in our customer support division, and corn hole tournaments in the company break room.

“We even raffled off an Office Space Printer Beatdown, where the winner could literally take the printer outside and beat it with a bat!” said Smith. “We really love to make it fun.”

The employees came through in a big way and smashed that goal with a total amount of $11,087 raised.

BlueGrace Logistics came in as a $10,000 sponsor for the 2017 Miles for Moffitt race and employees were challenged to match that donation. The employees came through in a big way and smashed that goal with a total amount of $11,087 raised.

If you want to volunteer or donate to Moffitt Cancer Center, there are plenty of local opportunities. Let’s help them see their vision through by transforming cancer care through service, science and partnership. 

 

 

 

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

 

Quick, Fast and In a Hurry

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

What Is Expedited Freight?

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

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

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

New Expedited Options For Your Business

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

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

Expedited Freight = Time Sensitive Freight

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

What Qualifies for Expedited Shipping

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

How Does BlueGrace Put Expedited Shipping to Work for YOU?

BlueGrace can easily handle any expedited freight shipment request. We offer 30-minute quotes on price and capacity directly, from over 300 pre-screened, local expedite carriers nationwide. With over 10,000 pieces of equipment from Sprinter vans and semis, to domestic air, we can handle any type of freight. Each shipment it tracked by Macropoint, so you always know where your freight is located.

Expedited Freight Only Works With An Expedited Quote

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

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

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The Next Generation Supply Chain

 

The demands of today’s marketplace are shifting, growing, and evolving more rapidly than ever. Shippers have increasing expectations of carriers and their supply chain as a whole, requiring not only increased efficiency, but also flexibility and adaptability to respond to the events and obstacles that regularly occur in the ever shifting marketplace.

Shippers have increasing expectations of carriers and their supply chain as a whole

The next generation model of the supply chain is the combination of adopting automation and infusing it with digital technology for enhanced performance. While these new technologies are creating flourishes in innovation and creating opportunities to cut costs along the supply chain, it is also driving the rate of change, creating both disruption and pressure to remain competitive.

These new technologies are creating flourishes in innovation and creating opportunities

MHI has just released it’s 2017 Annual Industry Report which had 1,100 respondents from both supply chain leaders and manufacturers alike.  The focus of this report is to identify which technologies will have the most transformative potential on the future of the supply chain.

The Top Nine Technologies according to the MHI report are:

  • Cloud Computing and Storage
  • Robotics and Automation
  • Sensors and Automatic Identification
  • Predictive Analytics
  • Wearable and Mobile Technology
  • 3D Printing
  • Driverless Vehicles and Drones
  • Inventory and Network Optimization Tools
  • Internet of Things (IoT)

The Role of Big Data

Without a doubt, one of the largest focal points of new technology is data, whether it be the ability to access large amounts of data or to pinpoint certain factors that can affect the supply chain. The Internet of Things (IoT) was among the top five of the nine transformative technologies. While a number various technologies are essential to the collection and utilization of this data, the overall culmination from the IoT is becoming the lynchpin in technology growth. While 24% of the respondents currently use the IoT, 55% have plans to adopt it in the near future and within the next two years growing to 92% by 2023.

The Internet of Things (IoT) was among the top five of the nine transformative technologies

“On Demand” and “Always On” Supply Chain Models

In addition to the emergence of new technology, the industry is also looking at a different way of perceiving the supply chain. Service on demand, for example, is reflective of customers being more comfortable with technology and online transactions. Additionally, this spurs the increasing demands that customers are placing on businesses in terms of shorter service cycles, lower costs, increased transparency, as well as corporate responsibility. Even logistical feats such as next day delivery are losing their lustre as customers are now looking for an even shorter turnaround time. The only way to maintain such fluidity and flexibility in the supply chain will be by embracing new technology.

The only way to maintain such fluidity and flexibility in the supply chain will be by embracing new technology.

If the on-demand supply chain model wasn’t enough, those same growing expectations for customer service and quick turnaround are establishing the need for a supply chain to be “always on.” Order confirmations, updates, tracking information, order fulfillment, and proof of delivery are just a few of the expectations that are now being placed on shippers and carriers alike. In order to meet these requirements the supply chain must be efficient, transparent and, for lack of a better word, flawless. To that end, the concept of the ‘always-on’ supply chain can run around the clock in order to keep ahead of the daily challenges that face any supply network.

Robotics to Lead the Charge 

While data and information are important to predictive and reactive supply chain models alike, robotics will be setting the pace for the rest of the industry according to the report. The industry is currently looking at a 37% adoption rate for automation and robotics. However, that figure is expected to grow to 54% over the next two years, up to 71% within the next five years. Given that the cost of robotics is dropping while the implementation is getting easier, the rise in industry adoption rates is understandable. As menial and repetitive tasks are being doled out to the robotic workforce, human employees are given the flexibility to implement operational changes that allow a business to become more efficient while simultaneously cutting down costs on redundant labor.

The industry is currently looking at a 37% adoption rate for automation and robotics

As the technology continues to change and evolve at a rapid pace it will be up to logistics decision makers to keep ahead of the curve and stay competitive. While different manufacturers, shippers, and carriers each have an opinion as to which of the emerging technologies will be the most vital, it will undoubtedly be a combination of all of them that will provide the key to success.

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The Growing Need for Visibility

 

Visibility Isn’t Just a Nicety

Visibility isn’t just a nicety, as far as shippers are concerned, it’s an expectation. As part of a growing demand for efficiency and customer service, shippers want to know where their cargo is and be able to track and follow it as they please. However, visibility goes above and beyond the peace of mind for shippers, when carried out through the length of the supply chain, visibility offers a great deal of other benefits for shippers and carriers alike.

Shippers want to know where their cargo is and be able to track and follow it as they please

“In an electronic poll, three quarters of the transport and logistics executives at the 2017 Transportation Intermediaries Association Conference said, US shippers already have required they provide real-time visibility as a prerequisite to doing business,” according to an article from the JOC. 

So just how much data does a shipper need in order to be satisfied?

So just how much data does a shipper need in order to be satisfied? Is it enough to know the general location of freight, or does a shipper need to know the precise location of each and every pallet during transit? Having both an answer and a solution to either question is what sets carriers and 3PLs apart from the competition, making it a viable means of growing the business while meeting the increasing needs of customer service. Increasing access to data combined with predictive models of inventory management creates a highly efficient system for manufacturers of every industry.

Is it enough to know the general location of freight?

Big data has more potential than just tracking, it can also help to prevent and reduce bottlenecks. When a truck breaks down, it creates delays and causes a ripple through the supply chain. Knowing that there’s an issue as it happens, allows shippers to make arrangements to avoid any serious kinks in the delivery schedule. In turn, this allows the manufacturer and the carrier to avoid unnecessary complications and costs in the day to day operation.

Visibility as a Differentiator

Visibility is also playing a bigger role not just for shippers expectations, but as a key to winning business for both carriers and 3PLs. Shippers aren’t just concerned with where their goods are anymore. They need a system in place that will show disruptions before they happen. They need a streamlined and seamless means of getting access to the information they want without getting bogged down in unnecessary back and forth via email. Providing this level of technology is becoming the leveraging point for winning business, now more than ever.

They need a system in place that will show disruptions before they happen.

“We’re better armed going into negotiations than we’ve ever been,” Brian Morgan, Senior Director of Logistics and Process Excellence at Leviton Manufacturing, said at the NASSTRAC Shippers Conference. “Look at the technology being introduced that allows shippers to have an eye into the brokerage world and see what capacity is in certain regions at certain times,” said Morgan. “That’s a paradigm shift from a shipper standpoint.” The ability to mine data “makes you a more powerful negotiator when you’re sitting down with your carriers, because you have all the information they do,” Morgan added.

The ability to mine data makes you a more powerful negotiator

This data provides more than just a value service from carrier to shipper, it also allows a carrier to make more informed decisions when it comes to picking shipping lanes and what cargo to haul and what to pass on. It also means that shippers are able to negotiate better rates with carriers. Allocating more traffic to specific lanes to help carriers cut down on operating costs, creating a mutually beneficial partnership between the two.

Bridging the Gap

From start to finish, the Supply Chain is the lifeline of any business. Like all things, however, it requires a delicate touch as there is a need for both access to right technology as well as a need for the right data to be delivered at the right time. As both shippers and carriers are moving into a more technologically based realm, having the right technology in place is quickly becoming the driving force for success.

From start to finish, the Supply Chain is the lifeline of any business.

The real question is, do you take a chance on picking one data platform over another and hoping it works? You could, but why take the risk? Why not work with an intermediary that can provide the necessary data and the tools to deliver it when you need it most? 3PLs are upping the ante with just that, providing the data and tech to bridge the gap between shippers and carriers and allowing both to leverage their business more efficiently.

 

 

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Drones – Why You Want Them In Your Supply Chain.

 

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

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

New Technology Makes Drones more Effective

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

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

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

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

What Drones Could Mean for Your Supply Chain

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

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

Companies Look into Fielding Drones

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

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

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

Proactive vs. Reactive

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

 

 

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