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

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

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

The Reluctance to Shift

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

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

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

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

Rails Starting to See Growth

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

Tightening of truckload capacity is a BIG concern

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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BlueGrace Awarded Top 100 3PL By Inbound Logistics

Over the last nine years, BlueGrace Logistics has been awarded Inc. 500, Best Places to Work, Top Minority Owned Business, Happiest Company Award, Inc. Hire Power Award, and many more. As one of the fastest growing leaders of transportation management services in North America, BlueGrace is now being awarded the Top 100 3PL prize from industry publication, Inbound Logistics.

Inbound Logistics editors selected this year’s class of Top 100 3PLs from a pool of more than 300 companies.

“Today’s leading companies are struggling to balance the need for advance planning against the demands for supply chain agility, low-inventory schemes, and complex omni-channel and e-commerce distribution regimes.  BlueGrace Logistics continues to provide solutions to help companies meet those challenges, and that’s why Inbound Logistics editors have recognized BlueGrace Logistics as one of 2017’s Top 100 3PL Providers.” said Felecia Stratton, Editor at Inbound Logistics.

Top 100 Selection Methodology

Inbound Logistics’ Top 100 3PL Provider’s list serves as a qualitative assessment of service providers they feel are best equipped to meet and surpass readers’ evolving outsourcing needs. Distilling the Top 100 is never an easy task, and the process becomes increasingly difficult as more 3PLs enter the market and service providers from other functional areas develop value-added logistics capabilities.

Distilling the Top 100 is never an easy task

Each year, Inbound Logistics editors select the best logistics solutions providers by carefully evaluating submitted information, conducting personal interviews and online research, and comparing that data to our readers’ burgeoning global supply chain and logistics challenges.

“The service providers we selected are companies that, in the opinion of Inbound Logistics editors, offer the diverse operational capabilities and experience to meet readers’ unique supply chain and logistics needs.” said Stratton.

A Look Ahead

BlueGrace Logistics will continue its quest to be the best 3PL, by offering its freight customers the ability to ‘Simplify their Freight’ by providing customized transportation management through their proprietary technology, BlueShip™. By developing tighter integrations with BlueShip™ and major ERPs such as SAP and NetSuite, the transportation management team can offer more tools to help consolidate, streamline and predict future freight issues and opportunities. The BlueGrace team of transportation management experts have already helped many companies reduce their over freight spend through a tight combination of data engineering, carrier relationships and excellent customer support.

The transportation management team can offer more tools to help consolidate, streamline and predict future freight issues and opportunities

About Inbound Logistics

Inbound Logistics is the leading trade publication targeted toward business logistics and supply chain managers. Inbound Logistics’ mission is to help companies of all sizes better manage corporate resources by speeding and reducing inventory and supporting infrastructure, and better matching demand signals to supply lines. More information is available at www.inboundlogistics.com.

 

 

 

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The Battle for The e-Commerce Market Continues on The Logistics Front

The battle for the e-commerce market continues between Walmart and Amazon. As both are vying for every customer they can get, Walmart has decided to take a new strategy against the e-commerce giant. A warning to Walmart carriers has been issued. Do business with Amazon, and you may not be doing business with us in the future.

So the question is, is this simply a threat to divert carriers away from Amazon, or is there something else to it?

The Peak (Season) Concern

There certainly is a sense of pragmatism behind this threat. If carriers are hauling for both companies, then Walmart could lose out, specifically during peak seasons when freight volumes tend to spike.

Satish Jindel, head of SJ Consulting out of Pittsburgh says one of Walmart’s chief concerns is freight cyclicality and securing trucking capacity to move during busy seasons. “The genuine concern is that when [Walmart] needs 30 trucks from a company, that they get those 30 trucks instead of losing out because they are [working] for Amazon,” he says. The company is “protecting its ability to get capacity when they need it,” he says.

The company is ‘protecting its ability to get capacity when they need it’

This practice doesn’t stop with just Walmart’s carriers, either. The company has issued a similar warning to other suppliers. Typically those that make use of Amazon’s cloud storage capabilities.

The Possible Storm Among the Cloud

Why would Walmart be concerned with suppliers using the Amazon cloud? Well, would you feel comfortable storing data in a competitor’s server? In the cases of a supplier, having proprietary information in the digital hands of a competitor can be more than a little discomforting. To that end, Walmart warning stands: Use this service, lose our business.

In the cases of a supplier, having proprietary information in the digital hands of a competitor can be more than a little discomforting.

It’s not just the proprietary information that makes Walmart execs a little uneasy. In the wake of the Petya cyber attack in June, there are a number of companies who are getting more than a little uncomfortable with the idea of all their precious information being vulnerable. But just how vulnerable is the cloud? Based on the service interruption that happened only a few months ago, it might be more vulnerable than you would expect.

But just how vulnerable is the cloud?

“Amazon Web Services, by far the world’s largest provider of internet-based computing services, suffered an unspecified breakdown in its eastern U.S. region starting about midday Tuesday. The result: unprecedented and widespread performance problems for thousands of websites and apps,” says a article from Georgia based Newspaper.

While there was no reported leak of information from this outage, consider again the recent wave of cyberattacks. The Petya ransomware virus all but decimated the shipping industry including ocean carrier giant, Maersk Line. Given the amount of information that’s stored in the cloud, it’s reasonable to expect that a competitor might consider a use of the service to be a potential breach of trust.

Is Walmart being reasonable with their concerns

At the end of the day, the question is this: Is Walmart being reasonable with their concerns, or are they simply trying to put pressure on their carriers to steer them away from Amazon? While both sides of the argument can be made, the answer likely lies somewhere in the middle.

 

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Understanding and Managing Your Hazardous Materials Supply Chain (hazmat)

Shipping Hazardous Materials

Any company that ships hazmat knows that every piece of the puzzle needs to be perfect before the freight gets moving. Between surcharges, accessorial fees, packing groups and hazmat classes, every aspect of each shipment needs to be in its place or else someone gets fined.

With the government mandates and regulations so heavily involved in every aspect of the transportation industry, it is imperative for a logistics coordinator or a third-party logistics (3PL) provider to be knowledgeable and current with industry and carrier regulations. Here is where it can get sticky for some providers who may not have excellent carrier relationships.

Our relationship with our carriers is different.

Our relationship with our carriers is different. They are as important to us as our customers, so it is to our benefit to work with them to stay up to date on industry and carrier regulations. We are constantly training our transportation and freight representatives as well as communicating weekly with our ‘Carrier Update’ that goes out to our entire company, not just sales!

How BlueGrace is Different

BlueGrace is different than other 3PLs for several reasons, but one that sticks out above the rest; Business Intelligence and Transparency.

Business Intelligence and Transparency

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

See How BlueGrace Helped an Agriculture Chemicals Manufacturer Realize a Cost Savings of 14% YOY

Download Case Study

Use a Proven 3PL for Your Hazmat

 

 

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Shedding Some Light on Dimensional Pricing

As more carriers are beginning to make a move to dimensional (DIM) pricing, it’s important that we take a moment to understand what this means exactly. Just like any change that happens in the shipping industry, being aware of it before it becomes the norm is the best way to stay ahead of the curve and to mitigate any unwelcome surprises in the form of higher shipping rates.

So what is dimensional pricing?

So what is dimensional pricing? Simply put, DIM pricing is a way for carriers more accurately price packages that take up more space rather than simply basing it on weight. A blog released earlier this year from EasyPost sums it up like this.

“Dimensional pricing (or dimensional weight) is a pricing technique for carriers to better reflect the cost of carrying bigger packages, regardless of their weight. Traditionally, carriers have used weight as the major determinant in rates. But by charging only by weight, carriers lose money when carrying bulky and lightweight packages that take up valuable space. Space can be just as important to a carrier as weight since bulky packages limit the amount of total packages the carrier’s vehicle can carry,” says EasyPost.

While the calculations might vary from carrier to carrier, there is a basic formula used by most.

Some carriers, like USPS, offer a DIM weight calculator so you can plug in your dimensions and see what your dimensional factor would be before you take your package to be shipped.

Understanding What this Means For Your Business

Once a carrier has their DIM factor, they can determine the rate to ship the package. However, here’s the catch. A carrier will also determine the weight rate as well and likely charge you the higher of the two. Understanding how your carrier will use dimensional pricing, as well as what the rates are will give you some insight as to how to move forward.

Understanding how your carrier will use dimensional pricing, as well as what the rates are will give you some insight as to how to move forward.

If their dimensional pricing is higher than their weight pricing, it might be time to rethink your packaging process, breaking items down into smaller packages or changing your packing material and box sizes for example.

LTL Shippers Might Get Hit Harder Than Most

The thought behind DIM weight pricing was born from both necessity and technology. Given the boom in e-commerce, many carriers realize that they’re maxed out on space, rather than weight, making their trips less than efficient. Given that we have the technology to accurately measure the dimensions of packages, this move is the next logical step for the LTL sector.

The thought behind DIM weight pricing was born from both necessity and technology.

‘The (LTL) industry in the last three or four years has rapidly embraced dimensioning (measuring) machines,” said Satish Jindel, principal of SJ Consulting, which closely tracks trends in the LTL sector. “It works, and it’s cost effective—the payback comes in just a few months,’ according to an article from Logistics Management.

How BlueGrace Can Help

While LTL carriers have been slow to react in comparison to parcel carriers, Dimensional Pricing is a reality in the future of our business. The DIM weight trend is beginning to grow, quickly. With the increased usage of dimensioners, carriers can more accurately capture cost data and ensure that price is compensatory with the cost to move it. The ultimate laggards here will be big shippers migrating off of the conventional class based system. Dimensional pricing is prevalent throughout the world, now the U.S. based shippers will have to play catch up. Not only will it apply to boxed parcels, but to palletized freight as well. Shippers will feel the sting of excessive packaging quickly if they don’t start making changes now.

Shippers will feel the sting of excessive packaging quickly if they don’t start making changes now.

Dimensional shipping might seem like a quick grab for a few extra bucks on shipping rates, but it’s actually a more accurate and fair way of doing business for all parties involved. Still, it can be a bit confusing at first, especially when dealing with other changes at the same time. At BlueGrace, we make it our mission to not only keep pace with these changes but to help you do the same. Whether it’s getting a better handle on dim weight, or finding carriers at the best rates to help you keep your supply chain moving, we’re here to help.

 

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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2016 BlueGrace National Conference | Recap

BlueGrace Logistics recently hosted their 2016 National Conference right here in Tampa, Florida. This was the company’s 6th installment and biggest conference yet with action-packed keynote speakers like Cameron Herold, Bobby Harris, Afterburner, Inc, and Travis Mills. The location was a huge hit as well, as it was the first time the entire company came back to where it all began.

Welcome to Tampa | Meet & Greet Mixer

The 2016 National Conference kicked off with an opening reception Sunday night at the Tampa Marriott Waterside, where employees, franchisees, regional and branch offices could gather and meet new people and see old friends. For some it was their first time interacting in person, since many of the franchises and locations had been acquired in 2016. Putting faces to the names was the goal of this event and it would spark conversations that lasted the entire 3 days.

Putting faces to the names was the goal of this event and it would spark conversations that lasted the entire 3 days

“This was a great opportunity for our our offices out on the west coast and mid west to meet our employees from the east coast,” said Adam Blankenship, Executive Vice President of Operations at BlueGrace Logistics.

Monday Morning | Day 1

Monday morning started bright and early with an employee breakfast and an official kick-off message from BlueGrace Logistics CEO & President, Bobby Harris. His message touched on how BlueGrace performed in 2016 and what BlueGrace is projecting for 2017. He covered every single angle of the current status of the business and really brought his message home when he announced a huge rebranding for the company. The rebranding consists of a new logo, tagline, website redesign, and much more.

The rebranding consists of a new logo, tagline, website redesign, and much more.

“This branding revamp has been in the works for a while, but the whole concept came about in a very organic way. Because of the amount of effort put into the logo change, we weren’t even sure it would happen, but now we couldn’t be happier with the final results and feedback.” said Bobby Harris, CEO, Founder & President of BlueGrace Logistics.

The excitement started early with the BlueGrace rebranding announcement and would continue non-stop for the remainder of the conference. The schedule would include prominent speakers and breakout sessions to help bring the entire company together and land on the same page with the 2017 goals.

Keynote Speakers | Day 1

Cameron Herold

After Harris wrapped up his presentation and a quick break, Cameron Herold, the “COO Whisperer” addressed the company with a powerful message. He touted high level leadership development qualities and generated a buzz with “Building a World Class Company”. As an experienced speaker and author, Cameron has an uncanny ability to draw the audience in and leave them inspired to simplify their daily tasks and and keep the company goals in line with their own.

“Cameron really delivered a solid message and left all the fluff out. He kept it real and talked about how to build a company with the people you want on your team.” said Vanessa Castillo, Vice President of BG Freight.

Breakout Sessions | Day 1

The remainder of Day One consisted of two tracks and one roundup for different employee types; Sales and Leadership. The first track was an eye-opening sales training for the BlueGrace sales teams from around the country. The focus was to learn how to sell under different circumstances and to many types of shipping customers. The sales team learned that by taking more time to listen and really understand the logistics pain points for each potential customer, they could utilize the entire BlueGrace “toolbox” and help solve their specific issues.

There was also a new leadership development track with an in-depth overview of each BlueGrace department.

There was also a new leadership development track with an in-depth overview of each BlueGrace department. Leadership from every department prepared specific messages to engage and empower employees. There were detailed discussions on employee engagement and human resources, explaining how the hyper-growth at BlueGrace would be managed, so every employee would be happy and healthy.

BlueGrace sales associates recieved a one-on-one presentation from Roadrunner Freight’s Grant Crawford.

In addition to the Sales track, the BlueGrace sales associates recieved a one-on-one presentation from Roadrunner Freight’s Grant Crawford. He had the entire sales staff’s attention as he discussed the new branding, capabilities and dedication of Roadrunner as a trusted carrier for the logistics industry. With a detailed presentation on 2016 numbers and 2017 predictions, Grant demonstrated Roadrunners track record for effective freight management and how all of the sales staff could benefit by using them for their current customers.

The remaining option available to the Sales staff was a carrier roundup. In a structured table to table roundup, the BlueGrace sales staff had the time to move from carrier to carrier and learn more about their services and programs. BlueGrace invited carriers to not only attend the conference, but to sit and talk with the sales staff to answer questions and provide direct answers about how their services can help customers achieve their freight objectives. At its conclusion, the feedback on the carrier roundup was very positive with many opportunities shared and discussed.

Monday Night Festivities | Slapshots on Ice at Amalie Arena

Being the Preferred Shipping Partner of the Tampa Bay Lightning NHL team has its perks! The Tampa Marriott Waterside is directly across the street from the Amalie Arena, the home of the Lightning, so BlueGrace jumped at the opportunity for an on-ice experience. Vendors, carriers and employees were invited to the Amalie Arena for a VIP Tampa Bay Lighting event. Amalie Arena was open to just the BlueGrace conference attendees which gave everyone the opportunity to take a couple slapshots on the NHL team’s ice.

Being the Preferred Shipping Partner of the Tampa Bay Lightning NHL team has its perks!

“We wanted to give all of our BG family a unique opportunity to go down onto the ice of a top ranked NHL team and take a slap shot, and they all loved it,” said Harris.

After everyone took their shots on the ice, the night concluded with hors d’oeuvres, drinks and an additional carrier reception in the Chase Club, a premier sporting event entertainment area within Amalie Arena. The carrier discussions continued until the early evening as Day 1 came to a close.

Tuesday Morning | Day 2

Afterburner, Inc.

Tuesday kicked off with an exciting presentation from Afterburner, Inc. This group consists of retired military service members who served in leadership roles within elite units of the Armed Forces and consider themselves performance improvement experts. Their main focus was “Flawless Execution.” They fired up the crowd with examples of how they used a “debrief” to both prevent mistakes from happening and for learning from them after they do. The conference crowd left the room excited to utilize what they have learned to help all forms of business communication, from internal to customer interaction.

Day 2 presentations from BlueGrace management were a bit more in-depth. The IT department discussed many of the new tools being added to the BlueShip platform in 2017 that would enhance ease of use, increase the options for the customer and streamline the freight process even more. A round of applause came after IT committed to finishing development in 2017 for all new projects they discussed in their presentation. As the IT department tripled in size in 2016, the ability to add new options simplified billing to additional mode options has become a reality. BlueShip will continue to be on of the industries leading  TMS products in 2017 and beyond.

BlueShip will continue to be on of the industries leading  TMS products in 2017 and beyond.

Enterprise had the sales staff excited with their presentation on how BlueGrace engages with our larger customers. While discussing how to interact with types of customers by handing them off to the Enterprise team, they also discussed some of the reasons why BlueGrace is the best partner for these businesses. After receiving the current shipping data provided by a potential customer, Enterprise can run the numbers through our proprietary formulas and reporting systems to generate exciting and time/money saving opportunities.

Enterprise can run the numbers through our proprietary formulas and reporting systems to generate exciting and time/money saving opportunities.

From distribution models to preferred carriers and on-time delivery options, the Enterprise team at BlueGrace can move more product, more effectively for our customers. As the presentation explained, it does not end there. After the customer in engaged with BlueGrace the reporting and optimizing continues and the program will only get better through new time/money saving options being constantly updated and developed.

Tuesday Keynote Speakers | Day 2

Dave Ross

After the morning presentations, it was time for a keynote from Dave Ross, Managing Director of Global Transportation and Logistics at Stifel Nicolaus. As one of the top financial analysts in the logistics industry, David waspicked #1 by the Wall Street Journal’s Best on the Street Analysts Survey in the industrial transportation industry. His view of the logistics industry is deep and robust.

He was able to discuss with the BlueGrace team as well as the carriers, the impact of 2016 market situations and what the future holds for our industry.

He was able to discuss with the BlueGrace team as well as the carriers, the impact of 2016 market situations and what the future holds for our industry. The inner workings of the financial side of logistics was on full display as he presented what to expect in 2017 with a new president and coming industry regulations and changes.

Travis Mills > Never Give Up. Never Quit.

The final keynote speaker was recalibrated warrior and motivational speaker, Travis Mills. Despite losing portions of both arms and legs from an IED blast while on a deployment to Afghanistan, Travis continues to overcome life’s challenges, breaking physical barriers and defying odds.

Travis lives by his motto: “Never give up. Never quit.”  Travis infused his humor and military background to get the BlueGrace team thinking about what is really important in their lives. To focus on the things you can control and no matter where life takes you, stay on the good side, because if he can do it so can you. Travis stayed after for an hour signing his book and taking pictures with anyone who wanted one, he was a true inspiration the BlueGrace Logsitics team.

We can’t thank him enough for his service and sacrifice. Travis you are a true inspiration.

Tuesday Night Festivities | Gala Celebration at the Oxford Exchange

Originally built in 1891 as a stable for the Tampa Bay Hotel, 420 West Kennedy Boulevard has gone through several transformations in its long history. At this amazing Tampa location, BlueGrace put on an event that would not soon be forgotten. The entire location was rented out and and the fun loving conference attendees filed in.

The Oxford put on a great party with a cocktails, a sit down dinner with fine food and an great dance floor.

The Oxford put on a great party with a cocktails, a sit down dinner with fine food and a great dance floor. The live band came all the way from Jacksonville and played just the right music as the attendees danced the night away. It was an amazing end to the best BlueGrace National Conference yet. We would like to thank all of our attendees, employees, carriers and sponsors for making it an event to remember and look forward to an even better event in 2017!

We would like to thank all of our attendees, employees, carriers and sponsors for making it an event to remember and look forward to an even better event in 2017!

2016 BlueGrace Sales Conference Sponsors



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Debate This: Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications Systems

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We saw the success of the automated fleet as it made its debut journey through Eastern Europe. The idea that something the size of a tractor trailer can link up and draft off another tractor trailer in near perfect unison seems like something out of science fiction. However, the technology is not only here, but is undergoing approval for use in not only the logistics sector, but also for non-commercial use as well. The V2V or vehicle to vehicle communications systems is currently being debated on with a final decision to be issued from the White House this coming January.

“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) submitted a draft proposal to require V2V technology in all cars and light trucks to the White House at the beginning of this year,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who is optimistic that the rule would be released before the next administration takes over in January.

A Frequency Issue

One of the biggest opponents for the V2V systems is the band spectrum which the system will be using according to a recent article from Bloomberg. There is a growing concern as telecommunication companies are attempting to skirt around the Department of Transportation’s issuance of the V2V rule which would allow automotive manufacturers to start making plans to use the spectrum.

The DOT and the Federal Communications Commission are working together to test spectrum-sharing tools. However, the 5.9 gigahertz spectrum band at the center of the industry fight should remain dedicated for use by connected cars until there is a proven and safe method of sharing it,” Foxx said.

About More than Just Communication

While the vehicle-to-vehicle communication system is all well and good, there’s a bigger prize at the end of the line, the driverless car. This has some pretty big implications not just for the consumer sector, but would prove to be a massive boon for the logistics industry as a whole. Imagine if the roads were free of traffic jams and snarls caused by inattentive or unskilled drivers. Not only would this cut down on the amount of accidents, but also traffic flow as a whole would be greatly improved. This improvement would come as an increase in fuel efficiency and productivity overall for trucks on the road, allowing for better forecasting and productivity for logistics decisions makers.

That is, of course, if the NHTSA, the DoT, and the White House can all come to a consensus this Janurary.

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Empathy in the Workplace – Why BlueGrace is Successful!

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Empathy: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Take a moment and think back to some of the jobs you’ve held in your life.

If you identify as a millennial, you’ve probably held several jobs since college. You maybe reach a point where you hit a ceiling, or you don’t enjoy the culture, disagree with management, etc. You may have worked for a company that doesn’t empathize with it’s people.

Typically the older generations have more tenure at companies and see long-term growth within. They ignore the issues with management or the mundane work culture, and “put in their time”.

So who is right and wrong in this scenario? Are the millennials wrong for wanting to be happy and pursue something different? Are the Gen X and older right for “embracing the suck”?

The feeling of being unimportant and undervalued is actually more common than you might think.

The End of an Era

The days of ‘hiring the resume’ are soon coming to an end. Highly successful start-ups are focusing on the person and not necessarily the resume, in the recruiting process.

A large issue is that companies are placing too much value on “hard skills” or the abilities of prospective employees that directly complement the nature of the position.

On paper, that sounds like what a company should do right?

There is no arguing that hard skills are important, as the company does depend on employees with strong knowledge that allows the organization to run smoothly. Putting a strong emphasis on the process has allowed companies to evolve and develop to the point they have today.

When Process Comes Before People

However, when process comes before people, when empathy and the true valuing of employees comes after the bottom line, it creates a large problem for retention.

No one wants to work a job where they don’t feel appreciated.

Prospective employees don’t want to sign up with a company where all their coworkers seem unhappy. It creates stagnation and lack of innovation, which can be the death of a business, or at least have a crushing effect on morale and productivity.

Building a Team

Much the same with playing sports, your team is only as good as your weakest player. Here’s where ideas like empathy and inclusion come into play.

Your smartest and most tenured manager may be loaded with hard skills but lack in the subtleties necessary to be an effective team player. This person could be ruthless when it comes to efficiency, which may lead to a singular mode of thinking, “My Way or the Highway” scenario.

While you might get a good jump in numbers for a time, that sort of thinking can be fragile, as it’s too rigid.

The logistics industry is constantly changing, and because of this, a good manager needs to be able to adapt and change tactics as necessary. They need the help of the team in order to stay ahead of the changes and make the process work consistently.

This is why empathy is so very important.

BlueGrace Logistics and Empathy

We’ve mentioned our Core Values before and we have highlighted our second as ‘Be Caring of Others’. This is probably one of the characteristics we focus on the most during the recruiting process.

Our team not only cares about each other, we care for our carriers, vendors, clients and partners. We work best with those who have compassion for others and truly show it.

The takeaway from this is simple. If you want a better business, you have to put your people first. Give them an environment where they cannot just survive, but thrive, and you’ll find your company will also reap the benefits.

To see all available positions at BlueGrace Logistics locations all over the US, visit careers.mybluegrace.com today.

 

 

 

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Fast Facts & Predictions About ELDs – Infographic

Countdown to the ELD Mandate

The time to plan for the ELD Mandate is now!

With the new ELD compliance creeping up on the trucking and logistics industry, we thought it would be beneficial to show some fast facts and predictions about ELDs. What do you think about the new requirements?

Click the image below for a larger version or download the PDF version here and feel free to share.

bluegrace-eld-infographic

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The Logistics of Natural or Manmade Disasters

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

This added over 200 miles to some of the trips.

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

Now Hurricane Matthew has it’s eye on the southeastern corridor. 

Hurricane Matthew will hammer parts of eastern Florida starting Thursday, and then spread up the coast of Georgia and the Carolinas Friday into the weekend. This will inevitably affect deliveries and pick ups, as terminals will possibly be closed due to mandatory evacuations throughout the coastline.

Disaster Recovery Procedures Established

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

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

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

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

FEMA Diverts Carrier Assets

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

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

Specialized 3PLs Dedicated to Recovery

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

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

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

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

Customer needs must be clearly defined.

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

 

 

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Carrier Spotlight | Old Dominion Freight Lines

olddominion_carrierspotlight

OD Freight Line fits many of our Core Values. Their ability to Pursue Outrageous Goals for over 82 years, is a huge reason why we continue to work closely with them to provide our customers with complete shipping needs.

One of BlueGrace Logistics Core carriers, Old Dominion Freight line, has 226 shipping service centers, 32 transfer points, and more than 18,000 employees. OD Freight Line provides service to six major geographical regions and thousands of direct shipping points in the lower 48 States.

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OD’s single-source operation helps you manage your domestic freight shipping needs with confidence and provides complete nationwide coverage across all regions of the United States.

Their Super Regional Service allows businesses to ship both inter and intra-regionally with the most competitive transit times and pricing available.

In 1934, Earl and Lillian Congdon founded Old Dominion Freight Line in Richmond, Virginia, with one truck and a commitment to keep their promises to customers. Since then, OD has turned into a global transportation leader. Today, Earl Jr. and his son, David Congdon, carry on the family tradition of doing whatever it takes to help the world keep promises.

Recently, Old Dominion was recognized with the following acknowledgements for company leadership in the industry:

  • Inbound Logistics magazine recognized Old Dominion as a 2016 Top 100 Trucker and named the company to its 75 Green Supply Chain Partners (G75) list for the sixth consecutive year.
  • For the seventh consecutive year, Logistics Management honored OD with its Quest for Quality Award.
  • SupplyChainBrain named ODFL in its 2016 “100 Great Supply Chain Partners” listing.
  • NASSTRAC honored the company as 2016 Multi-Regional LTL Carrier of the Year for the fourth consecutive year.
  • Forbes Magazine named Old Dominion one of America’s Best Employers in 2015
  • Fortune named CEO David Congdon to its 2015 Businessperson of the Year list.
  • The ATA Transportation Security Council awarded OD with its 2015 Excellence in Claims and Loss Prevention Award for the third consecutive year.
  • Mastio & Company ranked Old Dominion as No. 1 National LTL carrier for the sixth consecutive year.
  • 2015 SmartWay Excellence Award winner.
  • Commercial Carrier Journal ranked OD No. 10 on the 2015 Top 250 Carriers list.
  • Forbes Magazine named Old Dominion as one of America’s 100 Most Trustworthy Companies for three consecutive years.

Carrier Relationships

BlueGrace Logistics is always focusing on how to make each shipment, with each carrier, cost efficient. Working with carriers like Old Dominion Freight Lines is one of the many reasons we are successful in providing cost efficient and custom transportation plans for our shippers!

 

 

 

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