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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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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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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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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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BlueGrace Logistics – Why We Are Attending ConExpo 2017

This week, the transportation management team from BlueGrace will be exhibiting at the Con-Expo show in Booth #B9500 in the Bronze Lot at Con-Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada. The big question is “What is a Logistics company doing at a tradeshow for construction companies?” At BlueGrace we have a firm belief that we can make EVERY business better and have proved this again and again by providing transportation management services for companies in all types of industries. No matter what the industry, we look to become your outsourced transportation department. A single provider for your freight that is more of a partner than a vendor.

BlueGrace will be exhibiting at the Con-Expo show in Booth #B9500 in the Bronze Lot at Con-Expo in Las Vegas Nevada

What Services Do We Provide

A few of the services we provide to the construction industry are:

  • Specialized reporting, business intelligence, customer engineering, and analytics
  • Dedicated operations, project management, and customer service support
  • ERP integration
  • TMS solutions
  • Freight Bill Pay and Audit
  • Claims Management
  • Freight Cost Allocation, GL-Coding, and Customized Invoicing
  • Indirect Cost Avoidance Measures

Let’s Talk More At The Show

We look forward to discussing the freight needs of the construction industry while at Con-Expo. If you stop by our booth or we stop by yours, here are a few things we would like to discuss:

  • Why did you decide to visit Con-Expo?
  • Based on your business model, would any BlueGrace customers benefit from your services?
  • Can you or your vendors benefit from any of our services?
  • What all do you have planned for the week and what do you want to take away from the show?

BlueGrace is excited to be a part of this massive show that only happens once, every 3 years! Please add us to your agenda for the week and we look forward to this week’s show!

Download one of our construction industry case studies below

This Hardware Supplier saved 13% of their yearly freight spend which added up to $260,000 annually.

Hardware Suppliers In The Construction Industry Case Study

 

Learn how BlueGrace helped this replacement parts provider keep transportation spend below 7% of their total budget.

The Logistics Behind the Construction Equipment Replacement Parts

 

Reverse logistics can be a challenge for even the most seasoned transportation team. Read how BlueGrace helped them integrate and simplify.

BlueGrace Reverse Logistics In The Construction Industry Case Study

 

 

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How Do Construction Suppliers Overcome Logistics Challenges?

The MABD and Your Construction Supply Company

Construction suppliers who provide hardware and tools are under tighter compliance regulations to get the right products to the right stores or distribution centers by a certain time, or they pay a fee. Walmart suppliers now face paying a fee of 3% of the cost of goods of all deliveries after the Must Arrive By Date (MABD).

These regulations for Walmart were implemented back in early 2016, but other retailers such as Target and Home Depot have been charging these fees for some time.

Walmart suppliers now face paying a fee of 3% of the cost of goods of all non-compliant deliveries.

Your construction supply company succeeds or fails based on the constant delivery of your products. Even more so now with the MABD mandate. The timely and effective delivery of your products, is a major priority for you, your retailers and your market. How do the logistics aspects of hardware and building materials differ from other industries?

How do the logistics aspects of hardware and building materials differ from other industries?

The truth is they don’t, with the exception of specific project dates and deadlines that could be missed.

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

Out with the Old

Doing things the old way, is not always the best way. Once employees get comfortable in their schedule and day to day routine it  becomes difficult to change those habits and behaviors. BlueGrace Logistics has seen and learned how to explain and implement these changes. In the case study you will learn about a Hardware distributor that was drowning in manual processes and letting inefficiencies become the norm.  

Once employees get comfortable in their schedule and day to day routine, it becomes difficult to change those habits and behaviors.

How We Reduced Costs & Removed Manual Processes for Hardware Supplier

A large big box hardware supplier, based in the Midwest, was utilizing a single national carrier model. There was no GRI mitigation, or freight bill auditing. The manual task of booking shipments was taking up much of the customer support team’s day. The accounting team had no way to tell if the invoiced amount of the shipment was the same as the quoted amount of the shipment. The ways of the past were starting to catch up as volume increased and this supplier had to make a change.

This Hardware Supplier saved 13% of their yearly freight spend which added up to $260,000 annually.

Hardware Suppliers In The Construction Industry Case Study

What About Other Construction Freight?

As a successful third-party logistics (3PL), BlueGrace handles the freight for all types of construction supply businesses. This freight can be heavy, oversized loads, such as cranes and dump trucks to replacement parts and pallets of construction materials. Our first step in any relationship is what sets us apart and brings the most value to your freight and logistics team. Your current freight data is analyzed and then processed with our proprietary engineering software.

Your current freight data is analyzed and then processed with our proprietary engineering software.

This process gives your logistics team a brand new overview of your freight. From there, your team has access to the entire BlueGrace toolbox of solutions, including ERP integrations to our flagship quoting and product, BlueShip. All of these tools come with a team of logistics experts at your disposal and a constant goal to make your freight program more successful.

Would you like to talk with BlueGrace today? Feel free to call our Enterprise Group at 800.MY.SHIPPING or come see us at the CONEXPO in Las Vegas March 7-11 Booth #B9500.

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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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BlueGrace Logistics Launches New Branding & Logo Concept

 

Riverview, FL, December 12, 2016 – BlueGrace Logistics, a third-party-logistics (3PL) provider, successfully unveiled their new corporate messaging and logo design in front of over 300 employees, franchisees, vendors and partners at their 6th Annual National Conference in Tampa, Florida.

“This branding revamp has been in the works for a while…”

“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.

While the technology based 3PL stayed true to their original blue palette, the font and icon graphics have been updated…

While the technology based 3PL stayed true to their original blue palette, the font and icon graphics have been updated to give the overall feel of advancement and movement. The ellipse that was once in the center, has evolved to a two-color object at the end of ‘BlueGrace’ and suggests both the upward trajectory and depth of the current company.

BlueGrace also announced a new tagline.

Alongside the new logo announcement, BlueGrace Logistics also announced a new tagline; Passion for Logistics. The new tagline and logo are just the beginning of a full rebranding campaign for the rapidly growing 3PL.

 

About BlueGrace Logistics:

Founded in 2009, BlueGrace Logistics is one of the fastest growing leaders of transportation management services in North America. As a full service third party logistics provider (3PL), BlueGrace helps businesses manage their freight spend through industry leading technology, high level freight carrier relationships and overall understanding of the complex $750 Billion U.S. freight industry. BlueGrace is headquartered in Riverview, Florida with over 60 corporate and franchise locations across the U.S. For more information, visit www.mybluegrace.com.

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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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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.

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How does Freight and Transportation Fit into your Budget?

2017-budget

The 2017 budget season is heating up!

We all know how it goes. The heads of each department work on their annual budgets and turn them in to finance. Finance then returns with remarks like “the budget is too high, make it leaner.” How do you go about “trimming the fat” off of the transportation budget? Transportation is typically a 10-12% cost band on the general ledger for most manufacturers and distributors and once the 2017 budget is locked in, it doesn’t change.

MABD Affecting 2017

There will be challenges rolling into 2017 with freight carriers and big box retailers making their Must Arrive by Date programs or MABD rules more strict.

Huge retailers have very strict rules when it comes to receiving products by a certain date to restock their shelves. If a manufacturer or distributor is not getting their product to the retailer by the (MABD) or Must Arrive By Date, the retailer can hit the business with a ‘charge-back’ for a certain percentage of the invoice value. Not only will the business have to pay a fee, but it will reflect poorly on their business scorecard as well.

General Rate Increase with Less-Than-Truckload

At the beginning of every year the LTL carriers will begin to roll out general rate increases also known as GRIs.

Something to remember about LTL carrier GRI’s, is that the announced GRI isn’t necessarily indicative of the true impact to a shipper’s bottom line freight cost because the GRI is not a flat percentage rate increase across the board.

It is merely an aggregate combined average percentage increase across all lanes serviced by a carrier. Rates in some lanes may remain unchanged but some may increase by more than 4.9%.

A shipper could be seriously impacted by a general rate increase much higher than what’s announced by the carrier, so it’s imperative for shippers to check each lane for actual impact on costs.

Has your transportation and supply chain departments brought these items into consideration when rolling out transportation budgets?

Freight Cost Allocation

There is also the issue of past freight cost allocation. True freight cost allocation should show your most profitable ship to locations, customers, and products. Were you able to deploy sales people, advertising, and marketing budgets to the correct locations? Were customers, and product lines also accurate in relation to your budgeting for 2017 as well?

Transportation cost is much more than beating up LTL Carriers on price, sending out an annual RFP and picking carriers based on cost alone.

Don’t just remove a carrier and bring in a new one if you have a spat with the driver or if a shipment gets damaged. Make the decision based on the total of the carriers activity.

Consider a 3PL When Budgeting

Transportation costs affect all aspects of your organization and should be taken very seriously. When working on the 2017 budget, consider working with a third party logistics provider (3PL), as they will take the time to learn your business and see how these costs can affect everyone in your organization.

 

 

 

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Carrier Spotlight | Old Dominion Freight Lines

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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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How Expedited Freight Can Influence Purchasing Decisions

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Steve Daniels: Account Executive at BlueGrace Logistics

Expedited Shipping Options & the MABD

In a previous blog post we detailed how BlueGrace Logistics was able to resolve a long standing Must Arrive By Date (MADB) dilemma that was negatively impacting a health and beauty products company whose business model was increasingly moving towards “big box” retailers.

While big box retailers mandate MABDs to ensure their shelves are always stocked with products consumers want, many companies who sell products out of their own brick and mortar stores or through online eCommerce sites, are often losing potential customers and revenue by not offering expedited shipping options to customers who have their own Must Arrive By Dates in mind for purchases.

Fast Growing Automotive Industry

In 2015, the US automotive industry had a record 5.7% increase in sales growth over 2014. With this increase in sales comes additional demand for parts, to service these newly bought vehicles.

Many dealerships and local service shops find themselves having to order parts from manufacturers outside of their local areas to complete repairs and get vehicles back on the road as quickly as possible. The price of an item is just one factor consumers consider when deciding where to order an item from. Others, such as those in the automotive industry, are increasingly basing their purchase decisions on how quickly they can get a product delivered.

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

Expedited LTL Transit

The transit of a standard LTL shipment is typically estimated as the shipment being picked up and 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. Depending on the size of a shipment there are multiple expedited shipping options available for freight sized orders.

By cutting out the cross-docking in LTL shipments, expedited services are able to cover a lot more ground or air, in a much shorter time than a standard LTL carrier could.

Cargo Vans and Air Freight

Cargo vans and air freight can be utilized for shipments that would ordinarily take up a few pallet space on a LTL truck, and 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.

30 Minute Guaranteed Price And Capacity

BlueGrace can easily handle any expedited freight shipment request. With a network of over 1,100 carriers and 10,000 pieces of equipment available we can meet demanding pick-up and delivery times on weekends, nights and holidays, including 2 day cross country service. BlueGrace is also one of the few providers that is able to offer guaranteed pricing and availability within 30 minutes of your request.

GPS Tracking Of Your Freight

We also offer GPS Tracking of your expedited shipment. This data is updated every 2 hours for 1 Day Point shipments, every 4 hours for 2+ Day point shipments. Either way your Expedited Freight is tracked for visibility and security.

For any questions, please contact your BlueGrace Logistics Rep today! If your request is after 5PM EST or weekends, please email expedite@mybluegrace.com

 

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

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

Opportunities For Cost Savings

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

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

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

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

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

But is every TMS the same?

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

1. Upfront costs can be high

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

2. It takes time

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

3. IT Staff

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

4. Ongoing Management

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

5. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Electronic Logging Devices:  Making time more valuable

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

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

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

Pending Lawsuit to Stop ELDs

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

The Law of Supply and Demand

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

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

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

Loading and Unloading Times Should Improve

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

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

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

 

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The Busiest Time for Logistics – Holiday Season

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Holiday Logistics Ramp-Up

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

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

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

Where are my trucks?

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

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

Amazon/UPS Drop the Ball in 2013

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

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

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

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

Things to Bear in Mind When Planning for Holiday Uptick

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

Shippers – there is no need to fear.

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

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

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

Is your business ready?

 

 

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Internet of Things: 2016 Status

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

On the Roadmap

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

  • Location
  • Temperature
  • Speed

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

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

Reasons for Implementation

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

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

Technology Growth Overall

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

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

Implementation and Use of the IoT

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

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

Return On Investment

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

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

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

Plans to Expand

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

 

 

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

BlueGraceBlog_Private Equity9.7.16

The size of the private equity market is huge.

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

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

But what if we twisted the story?

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

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

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

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

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

Before The Investment:

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

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

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

After The Investment:

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

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

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

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

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

BlueGrace can vet and bring acquisition opportunities into shared services.

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

It doesn’t end with reporting.

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

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

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

It’s a partnership worth investing in.

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

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

 

 

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