Browse Tag

logistics

Rising Costs and Lower Capacity in the Domestic Truckload Market

2018 is off to a strong start for the economy and manufacturing, but there is a shortage of available truckload capacity on the spot market. The Purchasing Managers Index has not dropped below 50 since August of 2016. This time frame almost exactly correlates with the last low point in the Dow Jones Industrial index. (October 2016, 18142.42) In August of 2016, the dry van spot market rate was roughly $1.65 per mile, today that number is $2.30 per mile. As already discussed, that number is coming along with a driver shortage and carriers not wanting to adhere to the ELD mandate.

More Freight, Less Capacity

Currently there are 5.5 available loads for every available truck in the United States. Carriers can pick and choose the freight they want, at the rate they want, going where they want.

On the heels of the new Tax Plan, businesses like Boeing, AT&T, AAON, AccuWeather, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and many others have given out employee bonuses and increased charitable donations to show good faith in the plan. This leads many to believe economic growth is not slowing down in 2018 which then leads to more manufacturing and more freight shipments.

How Can BlueGrace Help?

Transportation Management providers like BlueGrace Logistics will consult with your business and provide a solution that can help insulate your company from the chaos in the spot market. Here’s how:

  • Current State Analysis, inefficacy identification
  • Future State Vision and growth plan
  • Benchmark Current Rates, identify lanes and current carrier mix
  • Load Planning and Consolidation Scope and Strategy
  • Network Optimization
  • Dedicated resources

BlueGrace can start this process with an initial consultation and discovery call. Do not let the constraint and capacity of 2018 ruin your budget before it even gets started. Fill out the form below to schedule your free assessment today!

The Digital Pathway to the Logistics Industry’s Future 

Make no mistake, digitalization is merely the pathway to the future of the industry. For an industry so vital to the entire world, the freight industry has been rather stubborn to change its ways. Sticking by the tried and true, fax machines whir and phones ring off the hook as shippers try to connect to carriers, book freight and make sure their goods get from A to B in good condition. For the last several decades, that has been the industry standard, until recently that is.  

We are witnessing a technological revolution as the freight industry finally moves to the present age. Digital services are changing the game, increasing mobility, visibility and information alike. While this change might be coming in with fits and starts, make no mistake, it is coming, and the world is changing as a result.  

Digitalization is Reshaping the Industry 

We are already beginning to see the emergence of highly automated vehicles in many applications, paving the way for those that will be fully autonomous. Warehouses are beginning to incorporate robotics and automation, reinforcing the efforts of human labor and expediting what is typically the most time-consuming process of the freight industry. Blockchain is producing some prodigious effects in terms of information technology and logistics planning. Even e-Commerce is an industry that is picking up speed and outmoding the standbys of brick and mortar stores.  

All of these changes, advancements, and innovations are being brought about by digitalization. 

It’s the capacity of both the storage and the ability to share data that will be the driving force behind the revolution of the transportation industry. That capacity will mean that there is never an empty or impartial load; the most optimal route will always be chosen, and a number of other variables will be predetermined before the order is even sent.  

Digitalization will be what drives innovations in a number of integral supply chain functions while adding new ones such as platooning, load matching and eco-driving. All of these innovations will focus on increasing efficiency without the need to reduce capacity. This means that even as demand rises, the supply chain will be ready to carry the load.   

The Effects of Digitalization on Legislation 

Of course, digitalization can do more than simply make the supply chain more efficient. There is also an enhanced regulatory effect that can be gained from it. While regulations are typically viewed with a negative connotation, such as the Electronic Logging Device mandate, there are some upsides to it as well.  

Digital documentation can help streamline the process in a number of different areas. Compliance with federal regulations like the Hours of Service ruling can be easily done through the ELD. As the mandate was originally designed to make roads safer by removing fatigued drivers, an ELD can be a quick and easy way to show compliance while providing other useful information to both the carrier and the shipper.  

Reduction of physical paperwork can also expedite customs processes, which are notoriously tedious and can drastically slow down the transportation process. With less back and forth on the phone and easy access via a digital platform, the necessary information can be shared quickly and easily, reducing the time and potentially costly penalties for non-compliance. This is just one of the many potential applications for digitalization of the industry.  

A Digital Infrastructure for an Automated Future 

When considering the potential scope of digitalization in the freight industry, it is necessary to understand that it’s not just a handful of companies or even countries that are participating in the technological revolution. It is the industry, as a whole, worldwide. While these little nuances and conveniences might seem novel now, they will inevitably become the industry standard in the near future.  

Digitalization, however, is only the beginning. It is establishing the framework and infrastructure for which all other innovations are being built on. For any of this to work and succeed, it is going to be a continued collaborative effort as an industry to both embrace and adapt to the new way of doing things. — Digitalization is merely the pathway to the future of the industry.  

Working With a 3PL Like BlueGrace

As the digital infrastructure continues to optimize freight, BlueGrace has been at the forefront, simplifying our customers businesses. BlueGrace makes it easier than ever to reduce the amount of physical paperwork with our FREE proprietary software, BlueShip®. BlueShip is user-friendly,  completely customizable and has real-time updates, giving you a single source tool for tracking, addressing, and product listing. Fill out the form below to request a free demo today:

The End of NAFTA Could Be a Nightmare for Truckers 

Recent actions from the U.S. President, Donald Trump, have truckers more than a little concerned. During his time on the campaign trail Trump has made his opinion on foreign industries, Mexico in particular, very clear. Touting his “America First” slogan, Trump promised the American people that he would focus on bringing jobs back to the United States and would renegotiate trade agreements to put the U.S. in a better position.  

While that sounds all well and good, the actual ramifications of Trump’s trade tinkering could be disastrous.

While that sounds all well and good, the actual ramifications of Trump’s trade tinkering could be disastrous. He’s already threatened higher tariffs on trade with Mexico and now the president has his sights set on another target, solar energy. His most recent legislative move would place a 30 percent tariff on any solar equipment that is manufactured outside the United States.  

According to Bloomberg, the 28 billion dollar solar industry is heavily reliant on these outsourced parts. In fact, 80 percent of its supply chain is centered around the acquisition of them. Bloomberg also says that this doesn’t just affect the renewable energy industry, driving it to the point of being cost prohibitive, but it could also cause 23,000 Americans to lose their jobs. The tariff would not only target solar panels, but a number of consumer electronics and the steel industry. It’s highly likely that these tariffs could create restriction on US-made goods in other countries.

Truckers Fear of NAFTA Ending 

The North American Free Trade Agreement has been a crucial element for the U.S. economy since its implementation back in 1994. The agreement was aimed at reducing or eliminating tariffs and other trade restrictions between partnering countries; Mexico, Canada, and the United States. As partner countries are attempting to work together to renegotiate the deal, the process is being dragged down with “contentious negotiations” and threats of an all-out withdrawal by the United States.  

While many in the industry will agree that the trade agreement is due for some updates and renegotiating, it is Trump’s critical attitude toward these trade agreements that have the freight transportation industry concerned.  

“NAFTA has been a major point of contention since it was first implemented over two decades ago. Critics have argued the trade deal has benefited large corporations or foreign workers at the expense of domestic workers. But to industry groups, the trade deal has been vastly more beneficial than not,” says an article from Transport Topics 

The trade agreement has been very helpful in opening up the markets between the three participating countries and has been a driving force in the success of the trucking industry. With over $6.5 billion in annual revenue for the industry, NAFTA is responsible for creating jobs for over 46,000 people; 31,000 of which are U.S. truck drivers.  

Restricting foreign trade in certain circumstances could hurt both domestic companies and consumers by limiting the flow of goods they might rely on

“President Trump hopes to use trade and other reforms to encourage domestic production – which could result in more jobs. But some domestic production faces barriers that other countries don’t have. Restricting foreign trade in certain circumstances could hurt both domestic companies and consumers by limiting the flow of goods they might rely on,” Transport Topics adds.  

The Fallout from the Death of NAFTA  

So what would happen if the United States were to withdraw completely from the free trade agreement? Most agree that the results would be disastrous.  

The disagreements and heated rhetoric have fueled concern throughout the economy. Many businesses rely on the massive trade deal, which could make them vulnerable depending on how the negotiations end and create uncertainty in the process. Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers Federal Affairs Vice President Jennifer Thomas notes that there are two bad outcomes that could potentially come from these talks. The first of these scenarios is that NAFTA becomes unworkable and useless due to unrealistic expectations. The second, and potentially most frightening, is we simply lose NAFTA altogether because the U.S. has pulled out entirely.  

The trucking industry could stand to suffer the most, as transportation from the U.S. to either Canada or Mexico is predominantly done by trucking.  

It’s more than just the threat of higher tariffs that would hurt American consumers, who would end up taking the brunt of the increased costs. There are a significant amount of jobs at stake, all of which are heavily reliant on NAFTA. The trucking industry could stand to suffer the most, as transportation from the U.S. to either Canada or Mexico is predominantly done by trucking.  

According to a report released last December by The American Action Forum, a center-right nonprofit, pulling out of NAFTA would increase consumer costs by at least $7 billion and businesses would be hit with $15.5 billion in new tariffs.  

As NAFTA negotiations are still ongoing there is hope that the trade agreement will make it through. However, with the Trump administration avidly arguing against it, there’s really no telling what form the trade agreement will take in the end.

How Can A 3PL Help?  

While we can’t control national policy, we can help our customers navigate through it. When retail stores added ‘Must Arrive By’ Dates, we were able to offer solutions. When Walmart went a step further and tightened their delivery rules with OTIF (On Time In Full), we successfully assisted many of our retail customers. With the ELD mandate in full effect, we’re actively helping our customers navigate issues that cause capacity and expensive penalty problems. No matter the situation, we are the experts here to simplify your freight needs. If you have any questions about how a 3PL like BlueGrace can assist, feel free to fill out the form below:

 

How a 3PL Takes the Logistics Out of Running Your Business

One of the first rules of running a business is, “focus on your strengths.” It sounds easy in principle, but for medium-sized companies undergoing rapid growth, it’s often hard to discern what those strengths are when every day brings new opportunities and challenges. Logistics is a tricky area. In today’s tech-intensive retail environment, customers expect to get their orders quickly, reliably and transparently. When they don’t, they will walk away and take their business elsewhere. The good news is that the rise of online shopping has pushed a slew of new, tech-savvy logistics companies into the sector while forcing established companies to invest in making their operations more digital and agile.  

You’ve Got Choices 

Let’s start with scalability because that’s where a lot of businesses run into supply chain problems. There once was a two-person startup that was growing steadily until they were mentioned on The Colbert Report, and nothing could have prepared them for what happened next. In the span of 24 hours, they went from local business to national retailer doing twenty times the sales – and nobody was prepared. The ‘Colbert Bump,’ a term coined to describe a surge of interest or business in the wake of a mention on TV, is an extreme example – but it makes for an interesting case study for scaling. It quickly became clear that they couldn’t handle their own fulfillment anymore. In addition to the complexities of hiring and training more staff, it was a question of simple economics. They needed a national presence and that meant forward shipping their products closer to major markets to deliver ‘on demand.’ 

If you’re going national, you need a national partner that works with a spectrum of carriers and different modes of transportation, with competitive pricing.

The next couple of months they’d learn that if you’re going national, you need a national partner that works with a spectrum of carriers and different modes of transportation, with competitive pricing. That way, you’re sure that your product is where it’s supposed to be and you can align your inventory with expected sales. 

Stay in Control 

Outsourcing your logistics shouldn’t mean losing visibility. It should mean the opposite.

Outsourcing your logistics shouldn’t mean losing visibility. It should mean the opposite. The right logistics partner will create transparency in hidden corners of your supply chain that you didn’t even know existed. Whether you like it or not, your in-house distribution is already working with multiple partners – and that’s problematic. You might have a separate partner for pick up, one for distribution, one for packaging and then one for returns. That’s an incredible amount of time spent calling multiple vendors and carriers, especially when there’s uncertainty in whether you’re getting the right services, process transparency, and competitive prices. 

A 3PL provider allows your company to integrate all of these costs and pay a single vendor, rather than several for your packaging and shipping needs. In addition to lower costs, one dynamic partner lets you allocate more resources toward growth – and that’s what you’re good at. There’s also an important customer service advantage to partnering with a 3PL. When your customers order from you, their three most important interactions are with your sales platform, customer support team, and the company that delivers their order. The right 3PL partner can use their expertise and infrastructure to exert that kind of control over the delivery process. That way, you can be assured that the deliveries are happening on time and you can pass on that level of visibility to your customers. 

Built to Scale 

3PLs are built to handle higher volumes of orders with increasing logistics needs. Your company might be able to handle fulfillment today, but as your market expands it will take up more of your time and might exceed your level of expertise. Bringing in a logistics partner leverages economies of scale. With higher volumes of shipments, the rates you’re charged are increasingly important. A single 3PL partner centralizes organization, meaning real-time visibility over your supply chain and more customizable shipping options.

The right 3PL partner will also increase transparency and that’s going to make your customers happy, while cutting costs.

That’s what 3PLs are designed to do. Apart from cutting payroll with a much smaller logistics operations staff, you can opt for a specialized in-house logistics department that interfaces with your 3PL. No matter how good you are, your 3PL is better when it comes to managing inventory and logistical distribution. When choosing a 3PL partner, make sure that they have developed software and tracking systems, which can be used to generate data that will allow you to reach your customers more efficiently. A tech-savvy logistics partner can help your company understand customer behavior and keep you ahead of industry trends. The right 3PL partner will also increase transparency, and that’s going to make your customers happy while simultaneously cutting costs.

Working with a 3PL like BlueGrace

BlueGrace provides scalability for growing companies to achieve their goals without labor or technology investments. With a fully built-out national network and global partners, BlueGrace makes it easier than ever to reach your markets in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Their expertise and processes provide clients with the bandwidth to operate efficiently and drive direct cost reduction, backed by procurement and dedicated management. For more information on how we can help you analyze your current freight issues and simplify your supply chain, feel free to contact us using the form below:

You Will Need Expedited Freight After The ELD Mandate Begins

The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate is going to put a serious squeeze on many supply chains, and possibly have a major effect on your business as soon as December 2017. With the devices in place, stricter hours of service regulations will be going into effect. While these are meant to increase the safety and wellbeing of the driver, many are concerned about the interruptions this mandate will cause to scheduled delivery times.

Some Exemptions are Available

While an acclimation period is to be expected, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is making some exemptions to the ELD ruling in a few cases, the most important being:

Sprinter vans up to 24ft and straight trucks with a gross weight under 10,000 lbs WILL NOT HAVE the ELD regulations and will be able to meet time sensitive deadlines. Why is this exemption important for your freight? We will discuss more below.

So while the FMCSA is insistent on the implementation of the devices across the industry, they’re leaving a smaller, cross section of the trucking industry untouched. This comes with a slight sigh of relief as the rest of the industry continues to resist against the ruling. With the deadline for ELDs drawing closer and companies trying, and failing to repeal the mandate, other avenues for fast and timely deliveries need to be considered.

This is Where Expedited Shipments Can Help

Whatever the reason, a shipper needs to get their goods moved, and they need to get them moved in a hurry.

Unlike most other freight that moves with routine regularity, expedited freight has a nature of its own. Consider the timing aspect of it. The whole idea behind expedited freight is that it should be picked up and moved off quickly. A solution for anything from a shortage of parts to a peak season order. Whatever the reason, a shipper needs to get their goods moved, and they need to get them moved in a hurry.

In addition to the change in time and pace, there’s also the consideration that expedited freight might have some irregularities that aren’t found in normal day to day hauling. For example, the product that needs to be delivered might be going to an urban area. This usually means that ramps and docks aren’t an option, so the driver needs to have access to the right equipment to get the freight loaded or unloaded. There’s also a variance of cargo from one delivery to the next.

the nature of expedited freight is considerably different from standard freight.

In short, the nature of expedited freight is considerably different from standard freight. It needs to be quick, versatile and most importantly, available.

The BlueGrace Expedited Solution

So what do you do when you’re faced with less available hours and capacity? You turn to an expedited freight expert. The days of overpromising and overdriving trucking companies are quickly coming to an end. Instead, working with a broker who has the resources to expedite shipping will be the answer. BlueGrace not only understands the importance of getting your product from A to B quickly, but they also understand that the new regulations are very quickly going to start cramping up the rest of the industry.

BlueGrace is ready to serve customers with our national fleet of non-dock high sprinter van, small/ large straight trucks with liftgates and pallet jacks for inside pick-ups and deliveries. As we mentioned, sprinter vans up to 24ft and straight trucks with a gross weight under 10,000 lbs will not have the ELD regulations and will be able to meet time sensitive deadlines. We will also be able to provide true teams services for sprinter vans and up to 26ft straight trucks. Another added benefit to the hands on approach for expedited is that all shipments are tracked with updates every 2-4 hours depending on day points.

BlueGrace Logistics strives to streamline the expedited process for you.

BlueGrace Logistics strives to streamline the expedited process for you. BlueGrace provides you with a pool of 300+ pre-screened carriers that specialize in expedited shipments and can provide you with a quote in as little as 30 minutes. How’s that for fast?

In an uncertain time, BlueGrace takes the stress out of your freight by giving you the information and technology you need to get the job done. Click here to download our Expedited PDF with more details.

Need An Expedited Quote?

Fill out the form below for your FREE 30 Minute Expedited Quote, or call TOLL-FREE 877.630.7446 to be connected with our Expedited Freight Team immediately.

Identity Theft is On the Rise, and Cargo Theft Might Not Be Far Behind

Identity theft is among the most insidious forms of crime. Not only can it mean a person loses their livelihood, but for an enterprising criminal it could just be a stepping stone for an even bigger target. What sort of targets would criminals be aiming for after stealing an identity? How about truckloads of cargo.

When you consider the amount of information people post digitally, there is a lot of sensitive data out there, just waiting to be taken. This is especially true when you consider the number of cyber attacks that have happened this year alone. The Equifax leak, for example, can be ruinous when you consider what can be done with a little credit information.  In fact, no one really knows just how extensive the security leak really is nor will we know just how many people have been affected by it. However, for freight companies, any form of identity theft could be catastrophic.

Identity theft is on the rise and cargo theft could see a drastic increase as well.

How Identity Theft Could Mean Cargo Theft

When someone takes control of your identity, they can wreak all sorts of havoc.

It seems like a bit of a leap to go from identity theft to cargo theft. After all, when someone steals your identity, that just means they tap your bank accounts and maybe open a credit line, right? Not exactly. When someone takes control of your identity, they can wreak all sorts of havoc. In terms of cargo theft, the scheme, as laid out by The Associated Press,  goes like this:

Thieves assume the identity of a trucking company, often by reactivating a dormant Department of Transportation carrier number from a government website for as little as $300. That lets them pretend to be a long-established firm with a seemingly good safety record. The fraud often includes paperwork such as insurance policies, fake driver’s licenses, and other documents.

Then the con artists offer low bids to freight brokers who handle shipping for numerous companies. When the truckers show up at a company, everything seems legitimate. But once driven away, the goods are never seen again.

And just like that, cargo is picked up and gone for good.

And just like that, cargo is picked up and gone for good. Here are some other interesting facts pointed out by Adrian Gonzales of Talking Logistics.

  • The average value of cargos stolen by fictitious pickup was $203,744 vs. $174,380 per incident for cargo thefts overall during the study period, a 17 percent differential.
  • The commodities most frequently targeted for fictitious pick-ups are foods and beverages, electronics products and metals.
  • Over half of fictitious pickups occur at the end of a week, on Thursdays and Fridays when the main concern of shippers and brokers is in meeting a delivery date and satisfying the customer.
  • Fifty-five percent of all reported fictitious pick-ups from 2011 through 2013 occurred in California. Significant fictitious pick-up activity has also been reported in Florida, Texas and New Jersey.

Cargo Theft Rates are Falling, but the Cost is Rising

While cargo theft rates have been falling from 2016 to 2017, the value of goods being stolen has been steadily increasing.  Cargo thefts fell for the third consecutive year in terms of reported incidents, but the value of the stolen goods rose 13.3% to $114 million, according to 2016 data from CargoNet.

“There were 1,614 incidents in the United States, including cargo theft, heavy commercial vehicle theft, and supply chain fraud. Thieves stole cargo in 836 cases with an average value of the contents at about $207,000, based on the 554 thefts with an assigned value. It represented a 7.7% decline in cases year-over-year and a 10% drop since 2014. The other 282 cases didn’t include a value for the cargo,” says an article from Transport Topics.

“However, the total value of the stolen cargo, $114 million, is greater than the $100.5 million in 2015 and $94 million in 2014,” they added.

What Happens to Cargo Theft Rates when Identity Theft Rises?

For freight companies, this means there’s going to be a need for even more vigilance than before.

As it stands, we’re still unsure as to how extensive the fallout from the increasing rates of identity theft will be. While cargo thefts have been in decline over the past few years, we might see a rise thanks to the number of vulnerable identities. For freight companies, this means there’s going to be a need for even more vigilance than before.

“Law enforcement has done an outstanding job responding to strategic cargo theft. But it’s like playing whack-a-mole. Not only will the groups pop up in different areas, but cargo thieves will bob and weave away from where the attention is from the police and private industry,” said Scott Cornell, second vice president and crime and theft specialist for Travelers’ Transportation business.

there’s no such thing as being “too careful”.

With the wave of cyber attacks, and now the rise of identity theft, there’s no such thing as being “too careful”. Know who you’re working with, and use a reputable broker to make sure your freight makes it to it’s intended destination.

 

 

An Optimistic Outlook for the LTL Market

The US less-than-truckload (LTL) market is undergoing a tremendous change. Improving economic conditions as well as manufacturing growth has helped increase demand for LTL shipments. As a result, Stifel analyst David Ross noted that the $35 billion LTL market combined for publicly traded carriers reported tonnage per day increased 4% year-over-year during the second quarter of this year.

Indeed, the overall US economy appears to have awakened after a sluggish start to the year. First quarter GDP rose only 1.4%, a disappointment for sure but second quarter growth certainly made up for it growing at a 3.1% clip thanks in part to strong consumer spending.

E-commerce

E-commerce is taking more of the consumer’s spend. According to the US Commerce Department, second quarter e-commerce as a percent of total retail sales increased to 8.9%, up from 7.4% in second quarter 2016. The rise in e-commerce has sparked new service solutions from LTL carriers particularly as “supply chains become shorter, turn times are quicker and there’s a drive for small, but more frequent shipments”, according to Mr. Ross.

Some truck carriers have introduced last mile delivery services for items such as exercise equipment, mattresses, and furniture.

E-commerce packages have been the primary domain of small parcel carriers FedEx, UPS, USPS and regional small parcel carriers. However, as more consumers become habitual to ordering larger, bulkier items, FedEx and UPS, in particular, have struggled because their small parcel facilities and networks are not designed for such items. As a result, some truck carriers such as JB Hunt, Estes and Werner have introduced last mile delivery services for items such as exercise equipment, mattresses, and furniture. XPO Logistics, the third largest LTL carrier per the Journal of Commerce’s 2017 ranking, has taken it a step further by also offering white glove services such as set up, install, recycle etc. and just recently announced plans to expand their last-mile hubs to 85 within a few years. In addition, it is introducing technology that will allow consumers manage retail home deliveries with advanced, online tools.

Technology

Many shippers are looking for more integrated services, faster delivery and fulfillment and increasingly detailed shipment tracking and information. Also, third-party technology start-ups and TMS providers, such as BlueGrace are offering real-time pricing, booking and tracking solution services targeting both the shipper as well as the LTL carrier who may have available capacity on a particular lane.

Pricing and Labor

Stifel’s quarterly overview of LTL trends indicates that fuel surcharges are returning back close to 2015 highs (but remain far below 2011-2014 levels). Carriers are aiming for 3%-5% rate increases, and while getting some push back, they’re not losing freight over any rate hikes. The pricing environment currently remains healthy but could prove a concern over capacity.

LTL carriers are finding it more difficult to hire the needed labor to meet the increasing demands.

Labor continues to be another concern. LTL carriers are finding it more difficult to hire the needed labor to meet the increasing demands. Those that are hired are demanding higher wages. As an example, YRC was able to get some concessions from the Teamsters to allow them to raise pay above the contract level in certain markets.

ELD

The federal-mandated regulatory requirement, ELD (Electronic Logging Device) is set to go into effect in December. ELD is an electronic hardware that is put on a commercial motor vehicle engine that records driving hours.

It is believed that ELD could benefit LTL carriers at the expense of TL carriers.

It is believed that ELD could benefit LTL carriers at the expense of TL carriers. As such, many industry analysts anticipate pricing to increase as well as tonnage while TL capacity is reduced. As the Vice Chairman and CEO of Old Dominion Freight Line stated earlier this year, “A 1% fallout in truckload could equate to a 10% increase in the LTL arena, with larger LTL shipments.”

Outlook

The Journal of Commerce’s annual LTL ranking showed that total revenue dipped 0.4% from $35.1 billion to $34.9 billion after falling 1% the previous year. However, with US industrial output, consumer confidence and an increase in fuel prices, the top LTL carriers will likely return to expansion and revenue growth for this year.

The Growing Need For Expedited Freight

Consumer expectations are changing. While this doesn’t come as a shock, the rate at which they are changing is picking up tempo. As eCommerce giants like Amazon and Alibaba continue to push the envelope, consumer expectations change as a result.

Today, the market has an expectation of “buy it now, wear it now.” While online shopping used to be a novelty, now it is the norm. With the advent of Amazon Prime offering a two day delivery for most products, people simply aren’t content to wait. While that’s great for consumers, it creates a significant shift in the way we look at logistics.

Disruptive Factors to Logistics

There are many speculations on what the most disruptive factors in logistics are. Some will point at ports, mega ships, and increased regulations. Others will say it’s the shortage of qualified drivers that are causing the most issues. CEO of FedEx Ground, Henry Maier, says it’s the next person to place an order through Amazon Prime. The “unparalleled and unprecedented growth” of e-commerce has created a “landscape of continuous change” that is rewriting the transportation playbook, Maier said.

Shippers need to be able to respond quickly to meet customer demand.

FedEx isn’t the only company that’s feeling the shift. “Think about the way things used to be on the parcel side,” Jack Holmes, president of UPS Freight, said. “Our business used to run right up to Christmas and then get very soft for six weeks. Now that (post-holiday) period is one of the most challenging for us.” Shippers need to be able to respond quickly to meet customer demand which means they need carriers that can meet their needs. That expectation and demand are only going to continue to grow as time goes on.

More About The Challenges

shippers need to not only be smarter about how they handle logistics, but they need to be smarter about how they handle their customers as well.

More than simply responding quickly, shippers need access to carriers that can suit their needs. Having trucks with lift gates, for example, is necessary for urban and suburban deliveries. Not only does this mean quicker deliveries but also a better service. Service, after all, is key in today’s market. Not only do consumers expect near instantaneous deliveries, but they have many platforms to express dissatisfaction should a shipper fail to perform. Therefore, shippers need to not only be smarter about how they handle logistics, but they need to be smarter about how they handle their customers as well.

The Growing Need for Expedited Freight

The holiday and the post-holiday season can become the most frantic for shippers and carriers alike. As holiday shoppers go on a spending spree, delivery times tighten as does available capacity. As a shipper, it’s important to have access to a reliable network of expedited carriers. Getting your products where they need to be, when they need to be there. So what do you do when you’re in a bind and need to have something shipped yesterday? Call BlueGrace Logistics.

 Why BlueGrace?

BlueGrace is an award-winning, full-service Third Party Logistics (3PL) provider that helps businesses manage their freight spend through industry-leading technology with a large network of established carriers to customers across the country. Sure, lots of firms may claim that, but what really sets us apart is our passion for supporting your success in this complex $750 Billion U.S. freight industry.

Our expedited freight services are second to none.

Our expedited freight services are second to none. 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 is tracked by Macropoint, so you always know where your freight is located.

 

 

 

 

Saving Lives Through The Power Of Giving

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

The Benefits of Donating

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

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

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

Be Caring Of All Others

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

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

 

How Shippers Should Already Be Prepared For The Holiday Season

Do you smell the pumpkin spice in the air? If you close your eyes, do you hear the faint jingling of bells in the distance to be? That’s because the holiday season is approaching. And, it’s approaching fast.  The busiest time for all, logistics companies, retail stores as well as shippers.

This is the season that can make or break shippers.

This is the season that can make or break shippers. If they are properly prepared, they can take advantage of having their items on the shelves faster for consumers to buy and reap the financial benefits. However, if they aren’t prepared, they could find themselves in a world of stress trying to find carriers to move their freight. – So, what can shippers do to prepare?

Plan For Unexpected Events

Remember while planning for the holiday season that it’s an incredibly busy time filled with unforeseen events. More people will be on the roads to visit their friends and family, and with more people on the road, more wrecks occur. More wrecks, more traffic jams, may cause your freight to be delayed.

Also, the holiday season usually packs a cold punch with winter storms creating dangerous conditions for drivers that could even keep them off the road for a few days. Be sure to track the weather before scheduling shipments around winter storms.

Things get hectic around the holiday season, making it more necessary to keep your documents accurate.

Things get hectic around the holiday season, making it more necessary to keep your documents accurate. One common mistake we experience time over time is the misclassification of freight. Minimize these errors by using a density calculator.

Compete With Larger Shippers

WalMart and Amazon are two of the biggest powerhouses in the world during the holiday season and can make it difficult for smaller shippers to offer competitive rates. Often times carriers can be lured away to make deliveries for these larger shippers on a seasonal basis.

We’ve seen this way too often. To be able to compete with larger shippers and keep their products moving, small and medium-size companies will have to offer and pay higher rates for carriers. If this story rings a bell, consider partnering with a 3PL. More often than not, 3PLs can provide better service and competitive rates.

Carriers enjoy working with 3PLs because they consistently engage with them by offering year-round agreements to keep their trucks rolling.

They can do so as they have an extensive network of carriers. Carriers enjoy working with them because 3PLs consistently engage with them by offering year-round agreements to keep their trucks rolling. Plus, the fact that they move such a high volume of freight that gives them a stronger buying power, which results in highly competitive freight rates.

Reflect On The Past

Think back to last year. Did your entire operation run smoothly with only a few minor hiccups or were you pulling your hair out? Make changes to improve your business from the inside out by locating the problems and finding solutions for them.

Did you have enough manpower to handle packaging and loading extra freight? You may need to implement an all hands on deck policy for the holiday months or hire a few seasonal employees. The key here is to hire good employees to keep your operations running smoothly. Also, consider a preseason training program for new and veteran employees to boost efficiency and minimize mistakes.

Did you have enough office staff to handle all of your paperwork in a timely manner? If not, consider getting a few extra secretaries or finding a way to automate processing all of this information digitally to cut costs and save time. Programs like Quickbooks could really help you transform your office.

Also, check out our latest technologies to see how to improve tracking, addressing, and product listing. By automating your services to become more efficient, you will be able to cut down on document processing time, costly accounting mistakes, and build more productive relationships with carriers.

Are You Ready? The Holidays Are Coming

Prepare your business now for the holiday madness!

 

 

What Is The Current Status Of Trucking Capacity?

A sudden increase in freight demand throughout the United States might put shippers in a difficult position for capacity and price later this autumn.

According to the American Trucking Association’s’ (ATA’s) Truck volume leaped 7.1 percent in August from July, and 8.2 percent year over year, the ATA said Tuesday. ATA revised July’s tonnage index, increasing it from 0.1 to 0.5 percent.

Tonnage Gets An Added Boost

“Tonnage was stronger than most other economic indicators in August and more than I would have expected,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “However, prep work for the hurricanes and better port volumes likely gave tonnage an added boost during the month.

“I suspect that short-term service disruptions from when the storms made landfall, as well as the normal ebb and flow of freight, could make September weaker and tonnage will smooth out to more moderate gains, on average,” he said.

Some of that 7.1 percent surge, however, may just be a seasonal adjustment.

Some of that 7.1 percent surge, however, may just be a seasonal adjustment. August is often a light month for tonnage as freight demand typically doesn’t start picking up till the fall. With such an increase taking place in August, ahead of schedule, that will push the seasonally adjusted index higher for the month. With the huge 10.5 percent uptick from July to August for unadjusted tonnage, that means that more, heavier freight was being shipped across the U.S. during August.

While this is good news for carrier, it could mean a rough season ahead for shippers. This increase in tonnage will likely mean tightened capacity for the fall. Additionally, shippers could be facing the biggest rate increase since 2014. 3PLs have been noting for months that capacity has been tightening as the economy improved.

The Effect of Disasters on Trucking

The devastation left in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma is also having a significant impact on the trucking industry. Combined, the hurricanes have done almost $300 billion in damage, which has lowered U.S. economic growth by 0.8 percent in the third quarter.

Considering the damage alone, it’s no surprise that reconstruction demand will be taking the lion’s share of the trucking capacity that would normally be used to serve more general needs.

“Hurricane Harvey will ‘strongly affect’ over 7% of U.S. trucking during the next two weeks, with some portion of that fraction out of operation entirely, according to an analysis by freight research firm FTR Transportation Intelligence,” says Fleet Owner.

While the disruption was more or less contained around the epicenter of the damage, there is an effect that is going to be felt across the country.

“Due to the already tight nature of the truck environment, that means that loads could be left on the docks, according to Noël Perry, one of FTR’s partners. And though the largest ripple effects of Hurricane Harvey will be “regionalized” where freight shipments are concerned, transportation managers across the entire U.S. “will be scrambling,” he added.”

“Look for spot prices to jump over the next several weeks with very strong effects in Texas and the South Central region,” Perry said in a statement. “Spot pricing was already up strong, in double-digit territory. Market participants could easily add five percentage points to those numbers.”

The State of Capacity

As far as the current state of trucking capacity goes, shippers will have to deal with a considerable constriction as the industry contends with the natural disasters and the reconstruction effort. With a considerable jump in demand from July to August and the “peak” season starting early, shippers will also have to contend with the largest rate jump in years in addition to the tight capacity. Simply put, shippers will have to make smart moves if they want to stay ahead of the competition.

 

 

Tampa Bay Lightning Announce Partnership with BlueGrace Logistics

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Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

RIVERVIEW, FL – November 30, 2015 – The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced a new partnership with BlueGrace Logistics, a national freight shipping company based in Tampa. The three-year agreement names BlueGrace as “The Preferred Shipping Partner of the Tampa Bay Lightning”.
 
“Since Jeff Vinik purchased the franchise in 2010, we have looked to align ourselves with world-class brands that share our vision and values on and off the ice, and BlueGrace fully embodies that,” said Lightning CEO Steve Griggs. “BlueGrace’s community involvement and commitment to Tampa Bay is aligned with our mission and we look forward to our partnership with them.”
 
The Lightning will team up with BlueGrace for one community outreach event per year over at least the next three seasons. BlueGrace will also be one of the Lightning’s sponsors for their annual Bolt Run. The partnership also includes arena-wide signage and in-game features at Lightning home games.
 
“It’s a natural fit for us to partner with a world-class organization like the Tampa Bay Lightning,” said Bobby Harris, CEO and founder of BlueGrace Logistics. “This partnership enables us to team up with the Lightning on charitable initiatives, increase our local visibility and expand our national brand. We look forward to a long-term relationship and years of success with the Tampa Bay Lightning.”

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About BlueGrace Logistics:
 
Founded in 2009, BlueGrace Logistics is the fastest growing leader 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.
 
About Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment, LLC:
 
Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment, LLC is an entity controlled by Jeff Vinik and its holdings include the National Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lightning, the Arena Football League’s Tampa Bay Storm and the leasehold rights to the newly named Amalie Arena, the 19,092-seat downtown Tampa home in which the teams play their games. Vinik purchased the Lightning and the leasehold rights to the arena in March 2010 and has since led a complete brand and business transformation, establishing the company as one of the leading sports and entertainment entities in the United States.

A Brief Explanation Of Freight Classing For Engines

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A part of BPO, business process outsourcing is the transportation of product. A manufacturer can make the best, fastest engines in the world, but then a reliable transportation partner will be needed to help get this shipment from point A to point B. There are many issues with FBAP or Freight Bill Pay and Audit when it comes to the classification of products. Here is a short explanation on getting the proper NMFC code and freight class for engines and transmissions.

There are over 10 different NMFC codes for various engine types that can cause confusion during the initial stages of the shipping process.

Internal combustion engines are a highly complicated and valuable piece of machinery to ship; with over 10 different NMFC codes for various engine types that can cause confusion during the initial stages of the shipping process. These engines fall under a specific NMFC code though (NMFC 120800) and require you ship them in certain conditions. You need to ask yourself quite a few questions and discuss them with your shipping representative before you ship your engines. This could determine the shipping cost and freight class of your shipment.

Questions you should ask include:

  • Is the engine new or used?
    A used engine must not work and can only be used for salvaging or reconditioning. If the engine is repaired or refurbished, it qualifies as new. Used engines fall under a different NMFC code and freight class.
  • Is the engine drained of all liquids?
    The engine is not allowed to be shipped until it is drained of all liquids, except those necessary to prevent rust, corrosion or other damage.
  • How is it being packaged?
    The way the engine is packaged is another factor in determining the freight class. The simple difference between mounting on a wheeled shipping carrier and shipping on racks or cradles can create a large difference in freight rates.
  • What is the released value of the shipment?
    The released valuation is another large factor in determining the freight class of engines and must be given at the time of quoting, as well as notated on the bill of lading.

These guidelines only apply when shipping internal combustion engines, NOI, so it is important to make sure you have all the correct information before you book your shipment.

If you have specific questions about your engine shipment, please contact a qualified shipping representative today at 800-697-4477. We also have freight class experts available to answer your NMFC and freight class questions. Looking to book your engine shipment? Request an engine shipping quote today!

The Future of the Highway Steering Towards Platooning

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Volvo is leading the way for advancements in connectivity in the United States. Goran Nyberg, President of Volvo, states connectivity is “changing the industry and the way we work and the way we communicate.”

“Platooning” is the term applied to a convoy of trucks electronically linked to a lead truck with an active driver. Testing in Europe since 2009, Volvo has found the trucks boost fuel economy by reducing wind drag and lessening the workload for drivers.

“How many people question who is running a big aircraft today? It’s fully computerized, and a pilot is governing the environment,” Nyberg said.

A predictive cruise system that can conduct a 360 scan of the surrounding area is also under development. In a video simulation, a cyclist was spared because the truck took over emergency control to avoid an accident.

If legislation is approved, platooning in the U.S. could be a reality in five years.

5th Annual Cats vs. Dogs Contest

BlueGrace Logistics holds Fifth Annual Cats vs. Dogs Pet Food Drive Benefiting the Humane Society of Tampa Bay


2015_COMMUNITY_CATSVSDOGS 2RIVERVIEW, Fla. – September 10, 2015: Each year BlueGrace holds their official “Cats vs. Dogs” contest amongst its employees. The contest is a pet food drive in which the women compete against the men to collect the most pet food in pounds. The food is then donated to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay to care for the animals in the no-kill shelter.

In 2014, BlueGrace donated more than 44,000 pounds of pet food which was enough to feed the animals for almost an entire year. Since the contest’s inception in 2010, BlueGrace has donated over 80,000 pounds of pet food to Humane Society Tampa Bay. Each year, BlueGrace plans to surpass last year’s amount. Employees come together to donate pet food, as well as leverage contacts to purchase large amounts of food. The contest will run through the middle of October.

BlueGrace Logistics takes pride in giving back to the community through our “Giving Grace” Program created by our President and CEO, Bobby Harris. Our Giving Grace charity of choice is the Humane Society of Tampa Bay and we support the organization in many ways throughout the year. Most recently, BlueGrace employees volunteered for Humane Society Tampa Bay during Creative Loafing’s BeerFest event at MOSI. A percentage of the event’s proceeds went to support the animal shelter.

Want to contribute to the 2015 Cats vs. Dogs Competition and Pet Food Drive? 

The public is invited to participate in the Cats vs. Dogs contest. For information or to donate large amounts (such as a pallet of pet food) contact BlueGrace Logistics at community@mybluegrace.comPlease be sure to specify if you’d like to contribute to the “TeamCats” (girls) or “TeamDogs,” (guys) if applicable. 

Business Boondoggle: Multiple Business Units with Unaligned Transportation Strategy.

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Businesses with multiple units employing different processes for the same task are NOT running lean or effective. It’s easy to get this way. Start-ups enjoy rapid success. Acquisitions are made. Technology is rapidly evolving. The skill set of the workforce changes. The result of which is that you end up using multiple systems, processes and even vendors to solve a single business problem. The business implications are far reaching and too often the executive suite or business owners are not privy to them.

Even when a need and benefit are identified, execution requires more complexity.

Whereas there is often a technology solution to the business problem or problems to increase efficiency and streamline productivity, it is not always understood. Technology often involves a subject matter expert in both the innovation and the problem it is intended to solve. Technology solutions are often misunderstood. More often than not – the business problem itself is misunderstood. Even when a need and benefit are identified, execution requires more complexity. This could include infrastructure, capital investment, training and most of all – change management. Poor Change Management is the single greatest threat to technology innovation and implementation.

During the sales process there are typically multiple detractors. They can come from all over the organization. “I do not like change,” Is the statement sales people hear most often. However, change is key to helping businesses run effective and lean. Change is critical to staying ahead of competition. And most of all change is inevitable, and should not be left alone in the hands of anyone not directly and greatly affected by the outcome.

Here are key issues facing businesses not already benefiting from a transportation and technology provider

  1. Visibility and Reporting. Without technology visibility is the hardest thing to management. Many shippers that do not utilize transportation technology typically have no key performance indicators nor know if their locations utilize a LCC (least cost carrier) program. BlueGrace is able to build a hierarchy to have each location reportable to a top tier level. Reports are limitless and business specific. Reports are built to see items like if your end users are choosing the least cost carrier or not, what is your price per pound or percentage of freight as a sale cost, and how those items are trending.
  2. Not negotiating pricing or GRI’s with full buying power: When a business has multiple units shipping with a number of different carriers and different rate structures the full price negotiation power of the organization is not being used. The pricing is being determined on a pure location spend basis and based on the skill and knowledge base of the decision maker on site at each location. BlueGrace takes all of the information from all of the locations and brings it to our key partner carriers to get tariffs for the entire organization to use. This makes things such as GRI (general rate increase) and KPI (key performance indicator) management so much easier.
  3. Consolidated Billing and Invoice Audit. When multiple business units manage their own freight and price negotiation this means there are freight bills flying around at a fast pace. If a bill goes to the individual unit to be approved, and then sent to corporate for payment how long does that process take? With a number or different carriers and billing times and schedules this has to be a business boondoggle. BlueGrace sends one consolidated invoice per week. This can be sent to multiple end users and is customizable. We also pre audit these bills to also save you time rather than having to perform this practice yourself.

 

These are a FEW of the issues facing businesses with multiple units doing multiple different processes. Please reach out today so we can help you run your business more profitably and effectively. This is our main thing.

 

Panama Canal Expansion

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In June, The Panama Canal Authority announced testing of the first gates on the Atlantic Ocean side of the waterway. Extending over four months, this step brings the Panama Canal expansion project to 90% completion.

“This event highlights the magnitude of what we have been working on for the past seven years,” said canal administrator Jorge Quijano. “Filling the locks with water is the culmination of arduous years of labor and the realization that we are within arm’s reach of the completion of one of the most impressive infrastructure projects of our time.”

The canal has encouraged investments for deeper channels in East Coast ports, such as Miami, New York/New Jersey, and Baltimore. Port Authorities expect larger vessels with more cargo to be calling in these locations.

BlueGrace Logistics Places #2775 in the 2015 Inc. 5000!

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BlueGrace Logistics has one again placed in the Inc. 5000 List of America’s fastest growing companies. This year BlueGrace came in at #2275 after placing #2274 in 2014, and #20 in 2012. We could not do this without our customers, franchisees, partner groups, employees, friends, and family. Our #3 core value is “Pursue Outrageous Goals” and we will continue to strive to be on this list year after year.

 

Please find a link to the Inc. 5000 posting here