Browse Tag

supply chain

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Introducing MatrixIQ in BlueShip

MatrixIQLogo

BlueGrace Logistics has announced the launch of MatrixIQ and SkyView, proprietary features within BlueGrace’s BlueShip software. MatrixIQ is game changing software that enables automated pricing strategy logic that dynamically adjusts pricing triggers in reaction to customer tendencies. The end result creates optimum pricing options. “The agility of the software combined with systemized logic is what we’re most excited about,” said BlueGrace CEO, Bobby Harris.

 

The additional release, SkyView, is the new business intelligence within BlueShip that provides customers access to quick, informative data to run their business. “SkyView is capable of creating powerful reports in a few easy steps at a fraction of the time needed previously. Customers of all sizes are going to love this feature,” said Justin Belcher, CIO of BlueGrace

BlueShip’s new rate screen is the industry’s most progressive feature, using systemized logic to create a simplified carrier selection process. The rate screen uses systemized logic powered by Matrix IQ to give BlueGrace customers a robust platform of information needed to compare carrier price, delivery and service options. Other features include our 5 Star Carrier Rating System, carrier service grouping & consolidation, & new tool tips with optional hidden visibility!

MatrixIQ_RateScreen

You can get a demonstration of BlueShip via YouTube here.

 

You can also request a BlueShip Account here.

Must Arrive By Delivery Date Dilemma: A BG Case Study

SCENARIO:

Tremendous growth leads to challenges related to the distribution of this rapidly expanding health and beauty products distributor. With much of their business moving toward “big box” retailers, the need for carrier management would be required to fulfill the commitments made to their clients. The true cost of doing business seemed more complex than fulfilling orders.

 

MUST ARRIVE BY DILEMMA (MABD):

With vendor scorecards dwindling, and charge backs against purchase orders mounting, the need for a better solution was apparent. From numerous carrier meetings, to drive on time compliance, to costly upgrades in service levels, the trend continued to show little improvement. Lead times were not an issue, and inventory levels were manageable, yet carriers could not seem to comply with the Must Arrive By Date (MABD) displayed on the BOL. Purchase orders were being shipped with ample lead time and in most cases, early with guaranteed service at a premium. Even with upgraded service, the carriers would refuse to refund the charges since they were delivered “on time”, per the standard transit. BlueGrace began by analyzing the data and scorecards to determine root cause of the issue, and set a baseline for current state performance. Next, an assessment of ERP integration capabilities was performed. Through minor customization, the potential for real-time connectivity to BlueShip TMS was an opportunity. This connection would allow BlueGrace to receive incoming orders from specific clients and apply custom business rules to achieve the Overall goal. No matter when the order was received, BlueShip would effectively route the “Best Value Carrier” AND provide the most optimal ship date. This meant that each order, once approved within the ERP, would be rated and routed; with a Wal-Mart approved carrier, at the lowest cost, with standard service and shipped on the day that would best fit that carrier’s network to allow for a delivery within the specified MABD window. Our client showed a 90% reduction in charge backs within the first 60 days of implementing this program. Combined with the dedicated support at BlueGrace proactively tracking each flagged order, the company received the best scorecard performance in recent history.

 

FREIGHT COST ALLOCATION:

The next phase consisted of reviewing what the true cost of each order was when freight cost was allocated. BlueGrace analyzed the average freight cost as a percentage of sale. This percentage was incorporated into the product cost to determine pricing to the end customer. BlueGrace knew there was opportunity to drill down and allocate a freight cost not only at the customer level, but the customer location, customer location type (Direct to Store or Distribution Center) all the way down to the SKU level. Since freight cost was not passed to the client, this would either show a net margin loss or show opportunities to reduce the freight cost allocation to become more competitive. The result highlighted regions that were more costly to ship to, products that did not have enough margin potential to validate shipping cost and insight into regions of the country that would benefit from an additional warehouse location.

Continued Growth:

BlueGrace provides scalability for growing companies to achieve their goals without labor or technology investments. Our expertise and processes provide our clients with the bandwidth to operate efficiently and drive direct cost eduction through our procurement and dedicated management.

Common Concerns and Simple Solutions of U.S. Manufacturers

How does logistics differ among manufacturers across the globe? Do the logistics needs of a particular steel manufacturer differ from that of a food and beverage supplier versus or a chemical manufacturer? In some instances, absolutely – But, according to a recent Logistics Management article that discusses the results of the “Business Strategy: 2012 Supply Chain Survey – Manufacturing Priorities and New Technology Adoption,” most all manufacturing companies share a common concern – reducing supply chain costs by implementing simple solutions through the use of technology.

There is no doubt that the global economy is impacting all manufacturers and retailers. Consumers demand faster production, higher quality materials, and lower prices. Transportation logistics typically accounts for 30% of the cost of any good. Here are some ways you can stay competitive in your marketplace, while increasing your bottom line:

  • PLAN AHEAD: Begin planning for the increase in demand for the holiday season this year. Retailers have prepared their forecasts and are analyzing consumer purchasing trends. Perhaps your item is going to be on the “hottest-selling” list this year. Are you ready? Back-to-school season is fast approaching and the ports have been planning for a virtuous year for retailers.   As we all know, no matter how well you plan – stuff happens! You must be flexible, react and make changes when necessary.
  • Lean strategies and operations: Whether it’s wasted materials or labor hours, a business must adopt lean thinking and processes to remain competitive and profitable in a global market. Eliminate waste in your production: hours, materials, etc.
  • Transportation efficiency: That’s where we come in, and there’s that word efficiency again! Trucking companies, ports, and 3PLs (like BlueGrace Logistics) are continuously searching for ways to move goods across the globe seamlessly. Technology plays a critical role in efficiency and a transportation management system (TMS) could be just the perfect solution for your business’ logistics needs. With a TMS, you are able to quote freight shipments, book the carrier of your choice, and track 24-7.  BlueShip® offers customization and can be integrated to your businesses information system. Controlling transportation costs is led by route optimization, reduced fuel consumption, and reduced idle time.

Take a look at the findings of the Business Strategy: 2012 Supply Chain Survey – How does your company’s concerns differ or mirror those of over 350 U.S. manufacturers surveyed? Leave a comment below with your thoughts!

Contact one of our transportation experts today to book a shipment! Shoot us an e-mail or give us a call at 800.MY.SHIPPING

Are You Prepared if a Natural Disaster Disrupts Your Supply Chain?

Although the Weather Channel forecasts a below-average hurricane season in 2012 – there is still uncertainty and history says you can never be too prepared. As Senior Meteorologist Stu Ostro instructs,

“people in hurricane-prone areas should be equally prepared every year regardless of seasonal outlooks.”

So what can your business do to prepare this hurricane season? Our team has outlined a few simple procedures to integrate throughout your entire supply chain to help you be proactive and prevent potential loss.

Flooded city hurricane aftermath
Flooded street in the Soho area of Manhattan from last year’s Hurricane Irene. Source: http://bit.ly/LhejIK
  1. Team: Are you prepared if your team is short-handed? Remember that cell phones, email, land lines, etc may become unavailable, which can cause great confusion. To avoid this stress, be sure to have multiple channels to communicate important messages and announcements to your staff. Satellite telephone systems offer a reliable form of communication for your immediate staff members.
  2. Customers: If/when your business is notified of a potential storm, let your customers know immediately so that they can plan ahead and adjust their inventories. Are there any products or materials that will be high in demand before or in the aftermath? The key is to remain flexible.
  3. Supply Chain: Daily operations and supply chain processes can be complicated very easily in the presence of severe weather. An easy way to prepare is to run through best and worst case scenarios with your team so that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and how to respond quickly and effectively.
  4. Suppliers: Do you work directly with a single supplier? Is the business located in a hurricane prone area? If so, plan ahead with the supplier and ask how they have prepared to provide services or products in times of disaster. It’s also a good idea to maintain good relationships with multiple suppliers especially if you find yourself in a pinch.
  5. Freight: Be prepared to make special arrangements for your shipments. If the roads are dangerous, truck drivers will be pulled off for safety. An easy proactive measure is to schedule your freight shipments earlier or work with a logistics provider to see if there are any alternative routes. Keep in mind port availability. In the case of heavy rain and flooding, your freight may not be able to move. Consider all modes of transportation.
  6. Insurance Provider: Be sure to have a copy of your policy and get any questions answered from your provider so you’re not left wondering.
  7. Data: Backing up your data is critical. In today’s global economy, businesses function on computer systems and databases. Be sure that your business documents, records, etc are stored at an off-site location.
  8. Community: Once your business has a backup plan, reach out to others in your community and share your tips and advice on how you prepared your business for a natural disaster. Hint: You can start by sharing this information!

No matter how many hurricanes, tropical storms, or natural disasters occur – it only takes one to impact our communities and cause major disruption. Get a plan started today and re-evaluate periodically, especially if severe weather is on the way.

We hope that these hurricane preparedness tips and reminders are helpful to your business. Of course, it is our hope that you will never have to put your plan into action. If you would like more information on how to formulate your own plan, build a kit and get involved, check out this natural disaster preparedness resource from FEMA.

 

Fresh-Cut Freight: Shedding Light on the Logistics of the Floral Industry

The nation’s 2nd highest gift-giving holiday is fast approaching and retailers and shippers alike are kicking it into high gear. According to the US Census Bureau, there are more than 23,000 florists in the United States! Flowers account for 70% of all gifts bought each year on Mother’s Day.

With such essential perishables on-board, you may wonder how these delicate tokens are transported from their origin to your mother’s hands. The inventory must be kept cool and in constant motion, creating a complex logistical approach to any supply chain. One day lost in delivery can equal 10% of the effective floral shelf life, limiting the opportunity for the re-seller to sell the product.

The journey begins with the snip of a stem – the clock is ticking to get the flowers to their destination. The majority of flower supply stems from Colombia and Ecuador. Christine Boldt, Executive Vice President of the Association of Floral Importers of Florida describes the supply flow after being placed immediately in a refrigerated truck for transport to a cool warehouse at the airport, “They go through a process we call ‘pre-cooling,’ in which any warm air that might be trapped in the box is vacuumed out. That allows the flowers to cool faster than they would if we simply left warm air inside the package.”

Fresh-cut Freight: Shedding Light on the Logistics of the Floral Industry, Mother’s Day 2012
Fresh cut flowers experience pre-cooling and are released to the warehouse, where shipments are broken down and shipped to their destination. Source: http://bit.ly/LXlMz2

Following the “pre-cooling,” the blossoms travel through the center of the U.S. flower distribution system: Miami International Airport (MIA). MIA houses approximately 2/3 of the supply (about 35,000 – 70,000 boxes every day) with huge spikes in volume around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day! In an effort to challenge Miami International Airport’s market dominance, California-based Mercury Air Group’s opened a 12,700-square-foot refrigeration facility at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Once packages arrive, they are inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS); ensuring the flora is free from harmful pests and diseases can take up to four hours. Fortunately, only two percent of shipments are labeled non-compliant under APHIS regulations. After the flowers receive the “green light,” the next step is another pre-cooling and release to warehouse, where shipments are broken down and shipped to an international location or placed on refrigerated trucks for domestic distribution. The flora can reach any city in the US by truck in less than five days.

Retailers are the final link in the cut-flowers supply chain before reaching your mother’s hands. Retailers include traditional florist shops, online stores, supermarket chains, roadside vendors, gas stations, drugstores, etc. Supermarkets account for nearly 40% of our flower sales and are steadily increasing sales throughout the slower parts of the year.

From harvest to retailer, perishables are a challenging transport, but 3PLs are here to help. BlueGrace® Logistics offers freight shipping services and solutions that aid in simplifying the supply chain process. Our dedicated representatives provide complete consult in helping shippers choose the best mode of transportation as well as the right carrier for their needs. Our customizable transportation management system, BlueShip™, provides detailed visibility of time-sensitive shipments so you’re always aware during transit.

We know the importance of on-time delivery. Whether it is flowers or materials, let BlueGrace® handle the logistics while you manage your other critical business operations. Contact a member of our team for a free, customized freight quote today!

If you’re involved in the shipping process of flowers, please add your input! Do you work in the floral industry and have any tips to share? Let the community know by commenting on our blog!

Happy Mother’s Day!

-Jennifer Masters, Business Information Analyst
Twitter: @BG_JennyD

 

Logistics: What is it? BlueGrace Offers the Whole Package

What is logistics?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions in the industry. Add “third party” to “logistics” and you may as well be wearing a sign that says “barrage me with questions, please!” Confusion may be created because the meaning is so broadly applicable across a diverse range of trades. The scope of “logistics” could describe the operations of a thriving corporate enterprise or the play-by-play of a day in the life of a soccer mom. While both accurately depict the word, those are not exactly the everyday logistics we manage at BlueGrace® Logistics.

To say we handle the details of transporting your goods from Point A to Point B would not do justice to what truly goes on behind the scenes of your freight’s journey. The factors below offer a glimpse into what you experience by partnering with BlueGrace for your logistics.

  • Optimization. One way BlueGrace creates value is by helping customers optimize existing transportation and logistics functions. We take a deep dive into the inner-workings of your transportation management to identify inefficiencies. With these discoveries we engineer solutions for specific processes in your supply chain and aid in execution across all departments. We strive to create new opportunities which ultimately increase efficiency and your bottom line.
  • Preservation. With so much change and variability in the supply chain, optimization is a recurring process. We don’t abandon you once changes are in place, it is our job to take that extra step and ensure those improvements are maintained and your success continuous.
  • Reporting. When you work with a logistics provider, we know that the ultimate goal is to take care of your shipments from start to finish without having to chase anyone for updates along the way. This is why we provide complete visibility through BlueShip™, our transportation management system. Using information like real-time tracking, we allow you the freedom to dictate what, when, and how you view your shipments and reports. Our customized reports take the guessing out of your supply chain.
  • Understanding. This part of our “logistics” is one that we hold in the highest regard. BlueGrace is comprised of over 150 years of experience in logistics, freight and transportation management. Our expertise helps you make the best decisions for your company. We strive to gain a healthy understanding of your business goals and how you wish to attain them.

Logistics means different things to different people. All of the factors above encompass what it really means to BlueGrace. Logistics goes well beyond just shipping… it reaches into the heart of your business. If you would like to request a free freight quote or an audit on your logistics processes, contact our team today!

What does logistics mean to you? What are the most important factors in determining who handles your freight? We’d love to hear from you!

If you’d like to join our team of professionals, contact BlueGrace Careers or visit our Careers page for more information about a career in logistics.

 

-Jennifer Masters, Business Information Analyst
Twitter: BG_JennyD

Logistics, MMA and the Power of 140 Characters

If you’re a fan of mixed martial arts (MMA), you may have seen the BlueGrace® Logistics logo slapped on the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC®) fighters’ shorts. You might ask yourself, “Why is a logistics service provider sponsoring this sport?

Carlos Condit (left) kicks Nick Diaz in the main event of UFC 143. Photo by Esther Lin via MMAFighting
BlueGrace Logistics sponsors Carlos Condit in Interim Welterweight Championship UFC 143. Source: http://sbn.to/AD4W26

MMA is one of the fastest growing sports today and the fighters demonstrate admirable character and values (not often seen in other sports). Not to mention, the UFC has made a huge impression on the sports industry as whole through its social media madness! Although professional MMA fighting is banned in certain states, that hasn’t stopped the UFC from growing its devoted fan base. In fact, the President, Dana White, embraced the power of Twitter for branding and fan engagement. He invested in a media agency to teach the fighters how to use the social platform and instructed them by saying, “I want you to Twitter your *** off!”

Like Dana, President and CEO of BlueGrace Logistics, Bobby Harris, is an enthusiastic advocate of Twitter. Last year, Bobby championed an open social media policy for all BlueGrace employees; instilling trust to represent the brand, all BlueGrace employees complete a Twitter boot camp and social media training in their first week of employment. They’re educated on the power of social media, how to engage and build relationships, and why it is part of the #BGExperience. BlueGrace employees (fighters) interact with customers (fans), partners, and their fellow peers via Twitter.

BlueGrace Logistics Open Social Media Policy
BlueGrace President and CEO, Bobby Harris, teaches Twitter 101 to employees.

It is our mission to provide businesses with the tools and technology required to power their logistics operations in a seamless and efficient manner. We believe that social media provides a forum for open discussion with employees, customers, and partners; where industry experts can ask questions, find answers, and build meaningful relationships.  Social media is the future of supply chain management and logistics – its real-time information sharing capabilities are critical. As the UFC Social Media Manager says, “You can reach anyone, anywhere in the world.”

Watch how we’ve even incorporated mixed martial arts into our corporate training program. Are you or someone you know looking for a career? Get to know BlueGrace and join our team of logistics professionals!

Dana White and the UFC are to be commended on their commitment to social media and for demonstrating what #GreatnessIs … just ask their millions of die-hard fans! The UFC and BlueGrace Logistics made the critical move and experience the power of social media and business everyday – has your business?

Share your social biz story with us! Have you started? Are you way ahead of the game? Do you believe in the power of 140 characters? We want to know!

-Samantha Hill, Community Manager
Twitter: @SamHill_BG

Partnership Reduces Costs and Transit Time… Creating Benefits for All

This is a fantastic read and I wanted to share it with you! Logistics Management reports how a closeout retailer, Tuesday Morning, partnered with a leading transportation provider, Averitt Express, and increased their bottom line.  Headquartered in Houston, TX, the retailer strived to find a solution to transport its “obnoxious freight” and keep inventory moving. The experts at Averitt Express, one of our valued partners, provided a distribution center (DC) bypass solution, eliminating significant transportation costs and shipment days for Tuesday Morning.

Kudos to the transportation professionals at Averitt and congrats to the team at Tuesday Morning! It’s evident you are a dynamic match!

At BlueGrace® Logistics, our team of experts can evaluate your supply chain to identify inefficiencies and propose solutions to eliminate time and enhance your bottom line. Contact us today for a free audit and to discuss collaborative distribution.

Read the Logistics Management article  “Tuesday Morning’s DC bypass cuts two weeks, 19 percent cost out of supply chain.”

 

– Samantha Hill, Community Manager
Follow @SamHill_BG on Twitter!

Shrinking the Carbon Footprint of Transportation: Earth Day 2012

To commemorate Earth Day 2012, we believe a proper “shout out” to Mother Nature is in order. People say the driving force behind the nation’s economy is the trucking industry. That’s a logical rationale considering nine million people help transport eleven billion tons of freight annually. In regard to these figures, BlueGrace® Logistics asks not only what the freight and shipping industry can do for you, but what can transportation do for the planet?

Sustainability efforts do not come in a one-size-fits-all box, here are methods to shrink your carbon footprint and reduce waste on either end of the supply chain!

Shippers/Warehousing:

      • Motion sensors:Only illuminate
        Shipping Pallet Garden Wows Visitors at the Canada Blooms Garden Festival
        Shipping Pallet Garden
        areas when a truck or other vehicle is actually present at the pickup point.
      • Solar panels: Utilize natural energy and light from the sun, thus reducing energy consumption, or… add a skylight!
      • Packaging materials: Biodegradable packing peanuts made from renewable resources are a great aid in the quest for sustainability. Companies such as StarchTech, produce packaging alternatives that dissolve in water after use.
      • Pallet-sharing programs: Thousands of pallet recyclers buy/sell pallets to create a comprehensive retrieval network. If a pallet cannot be reused for shipments, grind it down to reuse as mulch, animal bedding, or create a pallet garden!

Drivers:

      • Speed Reduction: The easiest (and safest!) step to take. Reducing your speed from 75 to 65 saves up to 27% of fuel and reduces carbon emissions by approximately 31.5 million tons!
      • Idling time: If you’re on a long haul that requires overnight rest, take advantage of truck auxiliary units or truck stop electrification systems to heat or cool your truck instead of wasting diesel while in idle.
      • Accessories and Equipment: Low viscosity lubricants can be used to reduce friction. Monitoring tire pressure regularly is also an efficient step towards fuel-economy.

Carriers:

      • Aerodynamic/engine modifications: Install aerodynamic panels on trailers and replace older engines with new, environmentally friendly engines.
      • Alternative fuel: Biomethane gas emits 50% less carbon than current diesel standard and is derived from organic matter in landfill sites. Coca-Cola Enterprises was the 1st in the logistics sector to invest in biomethane trucks.
      • Collaborative distribution: Merge different loads destined for the same end point to maximize trucking efficiency.

It’s easy to take a pro-active hold on the planet’s future. If you or your company is “Going green” we’d love to hear from you! Comment below and tell us about the steps you’re taking to make a difference!

BlueGrace takes pride in its involvement with the community and sustainability efforts. Several carriers in our network are SmartWay Certified. Naturally, a 3PL is a green solution to manage your logistics needs as BlueGrace operates from web-based systems or cloud computing thus reducing paper waste, consolidates your freight bills into a single invoice, and allows you to select the best carrier to move your goods – saving you green!

Let’s reduce the carbon footprint in your supply chain together! To learn more about how BlueGrace can help increase efficiencies in your logistics processes, shoot us an email or call 800.MY.SHIPPING today!

– Jennifer Masters, Business Information Analyst
Follow @BG_JennyD on Twitter

Cocoa Collaborators Exemplify Holiday Spirit

Hershey and Ferrero Group collaborative distributionSo the holiday season is upon us once again. ‘Tis the season of love, laughter, and generosity of spirit. While candy canes and mistletoe are abound, one more important element comes to mind. It’s the element that makes perfect stocking stuffers and the element that continuously gets sent to BlueGrace Logistics and ends up in our break room. The one that seduces the indulgent heart of ladies everywhere and it’s certainly not sugar plums. That’s right—rich, creamy chocolate. In the true peaceful spirit of the holidays, two goliaths of the chocolate world, Hershey Company and The Ferrero Group joined forces in October in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint on the world–what a match made in chocolaty heaven. The competitors allied together through joint warehousing, transportation and distribution. Joy to the world! Now if only they could celebrate by giving out samples of their yummy goods everywhere (Merry Christmas to me)!  Hershey, alone ships over 100,000 outbound refrigerated truckloads annually. Holy toothache, batman!

I read in a manufacturers survey that, in unions such as these, supply chain savings and new growth are high atop the priority list of many large global manufacturers. About half of companies surveyed said reshaping supply chains was a top priority. Though collaborative distribution is indeed a growing trend (across all industries), adoption is slow and is still very much under-utilized in my opinion. For middle-market companies that lack the volume to ship in full truckloads, this method just seems the sensible alternative. With fewer deliveries, less road congestion, reduced energy use and more efficient receiving at the retailer’s distribution center, it’s much more economical and mutually beneficial for both parties involved. Who wouldn’t want to save money while saving the planet?

So, I think these “green”, confectionary trailblazers are setting a terrific example for fellow shippers in their supply chain operations. My hope is that this distribution model will become more of a standard in the future of logistics. All I’m saying is that if Santa Claus could strike up some kind of collaborative supply chain deal, that jolly old man could end up back in the North Pole with his feet up and out of those boots a lot faster and maybe afford to give those elves a raise too.

Are you jumping on board the “green” train this holiday season? Any collaborative distribution plans in the near future? Comment on this blog and let us know!

– Jennifer Masters, Business Information Analyst
Follow me @BG_JennyD

Daily Transportation and Logistics News – June 28, 2011

Smaller Shippers Bumping Up Supply Chain Budgets

A survey conducted by LTL freight carrier Saia has found that shippers are planning for rate hikes and energy spikes. The less than truckload carrier’s first online survey of small to medium sized shippers found 46 percent of the respondents plan to spend more on LTL trucking.

Diesel Price Falls to Near Four-Month Low

The average price of diesel fuel across the US plunged 6.2 cents in the past week to the lowest level in nearly four months, bringing relief to an industrial sector that has been struggling with higher energy costs.

ATA reports seasonally-adjusted tonnage is down 2.3 percent in May

Following a revised 0.6 percent decline for its advance seasonally-adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage in April, the ATA reported that the same index dropped 2.3 percent in May. This decline continues a trend of uneven freight transportation volumes amid various economic indicators showing signs that the economic recovery has lost its footing in recent weeks especially.

Transport Capital Partners survey points to tight capacity and higher rates over next 12 months

While there is a current moderation in freight volumes, the consensus from a Transport Capital Partners (TCP) survey appears to be that this moderation will not be lasting, with 80 percent of survey respondents indicating trucking volumes will increase within the next 12 months.

Consumer spending was weak in May, due to high gas prices

Consumer spending was unchanged last month, the Commerce Department said Monday. That was the worst result since September 2009. And when adjusted for inflation, spending actually dropped 0.1%.

Governor’s SunRail decision could come this week

This could be the week the SunRail commuter train gets back on track or gets derailed, like so many other mass-transit plans for Orlando. Gov. Rick Scott, who put the $1.2 billion project on hold in January, has said he will decide by Friday what to do with the 61-mile system that would link downtown Orlando with Volusia, Seminole and Osceola counties.

– Ben Dundas, Web Analyst
Follow me @ben37dBG

Who is really in control of your Supply Chain?

In light of the seemingly endless reports of economic instability and companies digging their heels in with a wait and see approach to the future, many have put a emphasis on cost cuts and control.  From eliminating entire departments within an infrastructure to canceling the annual Christmas party, the impact of these changes can be felt on many different levels.  I have worked with clients during this time to drill down into the fine details of their business and help develop a solution that will prevent reducing their workforce or eliminating company functions that could inhibit the degradation of a company’s culture. 

A common area for improvement has been the inbound supply chain and routing process.  It is surprising how many companies either ignore the inbound component of their business or place all of the responsibility in the hands of their vendors.  It is common practice for vendors to utilize “shipping and handling” as a profit center to their customers.  In the most extreme cases the client felt they had a better deal than the competition in terms of the cost of the raw material, but failed to realize that the vendor was actually selling their product at a loss just to make a profit off the freight charges.

Another opportunity for additional control has been routing the inbound through a specialized team within our organization to set up checks and balances as well as follow proper routing procedures that have been set by the client.  There are many occasions where the vendor has requested expedited delivery at the expense of their customer in order to meet one of their own deadlines or contract agreements.  Would you allow any outside party to have access to your credit card or bank account without complete control over each transaction?  Freight is commonly one of the most impactful costs that most businesses must control and having a new set of eyes develop a customized solution will benefit the company, employees and culture.

– Jason Lockard, Director of Enterprise Sales
Follow me @BGJLockard

Thinking Lean

Last week I attended a webinar on Lean Supply Chain. One concept they discussed was Lead Time. In manufacturing this is generally thought of as the time between placing an order and receiving the product. But at BlueGrace this could take many forms. Lead time could be the time a quote comes in until it has been quoted. It could be any request from a customer or employee. It could be a request from management down the chain of command. It can be just about anything.

The lecturer used the following math formula:
LEAD TIME = VALUE + WASTE

Pretty simple stuff. Lead time equals the value placed on the object by the customer plus wasted time/movement etc. Waste has no value to the customer. Like any mathematical equation if lead time is constant and you increase waste what happens to value? It goes down. Conversely how do you increase value? By lowering waste.

Per the lecture the Ultimate Business Model looks like this:
Supply Lead Time + Manufacturing Lead Time + Outbound Logistics Lead Time  needs to be < Customers Lead Time (this is Built to Order)

Most companies fail at lead times and have to forecast (guess). Their model looks like this:
Supply Lead Time + Manufacturing Lead Time + Outbound Logistics Lead Time  > Customers Lead Time (This is called Inventory)

How does all of this apply to us? Honestly, I haven’t totally put my finger on that but my gut tells me this is important. Lets look at our process when handling a request from Bobby. For example, he told me to manage a particular area of the business.

The optimum design would be:
The time it takes for me to complete (This is Lead Time) = Value (this is the value Bobby places on the request) + Waste (this is me asking someone to get me a list, go through the list, wait for responses, meet to make decisions).

Nothing in the waste category adds ANY value to the customer (Bobby), he just wants it done. In this equation, if we reduce waste (remember, for this equation Bobby’s value is a constant) what happens to lead time? It goes down! The very cool thing about this type of equation is reducing waste does two very big things.

  1. It reduces lead time.
  2. It increases value!

I am about to start a course in Lean Six Sigma. Hopefully,  I will learn more about lean concepts and how it can apply to us but for now please consider this blog and think about the simple equation
LEAD TIME = VALUE + WASTE
This article is worth reading, A Lean Office Eliminates Waste and Saves Time.

Randy Collack, COO
Follow me @schmengieBG

E-Logs, Supply Chains Beware

Recently, I received an email from Tim Higham, the CEO of Interstate Transport, pointing out the new provisions regarding the new E-Log rule. Trust me when I say that this new rule can radically change the transportation industry.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has opted to place this new rule into effect June 1, 2012. Basically, the rule states that any carrier that fails a single compliance review will be required to use onboard recorders to track driver hours.

Warning.  The following is my personal opinion on this subject

Having been in the transportation industry during my entire working life, I believe this could be a very dangerous rule if not properly overseen. The basis for this rule is that most violators of hours of service rules have much higher incidence rates for accidents. This statistic is not arguable and has a long and proven history. The belief is that cracking down on these drivers and thus requiring onboard tracking devices will greatly reduce offenders. This may actually work, but at first glance it doesn’t seem that all points have been considered. I believe that it may enable  “cheaters” to cheat with greater ease— offenders are already breaking the rules.

And device tampering is only one concern. Another is the possibility of problems in identifying the respective drivers. I’m not convinced that those who want to will not be able to fool the system that is in place. Further, a portion of those that are compliant will be at risk of being more bound to regulations. Having a family on the road every day, I am rather concerned about highway safety. I just don’t see this rule making a positive impact.  It can only result in greater restrictions for the good guys.

Additionally, this could wreak havoc on already tight capacities. A small reduction in capacity could send rates skyrocketing and create delays and instability in supply chains. This would make big winners out of the offenders and those less likely to comply. A rule meant to crack down on chronic offenders could actually benefit them tremendously.

Keep in mind that this rule can be imposed on a single review. It is my hope and belief that strong domestic manufacturing and a strong U.S. economy will emerge by 2012.  If capacity shrinks due to a non-effective rule, everyone would suffer.

Again, I like the thinking behind greater checks and balances. I just hope these new proposed regulations do not harm the good guys.

Bobby Harris, President and CEO
Follow me @BobbyBG_CEO