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third party logistics

Unlocking The Benefits of Digital Supply Networks

“Digital” has become one of the biggest buzzwords in the transportation and logistics industry. Everything, it seems, is going through a digital revolution. Procurement services and digital platforms are being created, revised, and improved at a pace that the industry is completely unaccustomed to. Other parts of the industry are turning to automation to expedite the process of manufacturing, selection, fulfillment, and shipping.  

While we’re completely onboard with this new digital era, it might be worth it to take a moment and consider whether or not it will live up to the hype.   

“New research which was conducted by Deloitte and the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) indicates that while U.S. shippers are increasingly aware of the benefits of digital supply networks (DSNs), many “remain in the early phases” of adoption,” according to Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor for Supply Chain Management Review. 

The Industry’s Caution 

The study, “Embracing a digital future: How manufacturers can unlock the transformative benefits of digital supply networks,” shows that there is a wide difference between the practice and the opinion when it comes to digital supply networks.  

In spite of the nuance and the hype that surround DSNs and other platforms, there are those in the industry that aren’t surprised by the findings.  

Transportation economist, Noël Perry, told Supply Chain Management Review that he was not surprised by the findings. 

“Supply chain managers are taking a cautious approach to digitization,” he says. “And for the time being, that may be a good idea. They should not be spending too much on new technology at this point, but should be poised to adapt when the time is right…which should come soon,” says Noël Perry, a transportation economist,  in an interview for Supply Chain Management Review. 

Perry advises managers to keep themselves informed of the changes in the industry as well as in emerging technology by attending trade events and transportation conferences where many new projects and start-ups get their grand unveiling.  

The Survey By the Numbers  

The survey was conducted of over 200 manufacturing organizations, of which over half, 51 percent, said they believe their DSN maturity level to be “above average” when compared to their competitors. However, of those respondents, there is only 28 percent that has started to implement DSN solutions within their organization.   

 

As for the uses of a DSN solution, one of the biggest goals among the respondents is transparency as it is one of the most critical keys to boosting overall efficiency. In order for end-to-end transparency to occur within a supply chain, there needs to be a total connection of the data, from start to finish. According to the survey, only 6 percent of the respondents have such accessibility to data in place.  

“While enthusiasm is high and manufacturers realize the benefits of Digital Supply Networks, many companies struggle to identify the right technology landscape which will provide the most value when they are approaching a digital shift, said Stephen Laaper, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP and co-author of the study. “As a result, many hold off with key aspects of their transformation, which in turn puts their transformation at too slow a place to avoid disruption.” 

Choose Wisely but Make a Choice 

With that being said, the transportation and logistics industries are ripe for change. Some would even say they are long overdue.

As with any new technology, especially such that has such a radical ability to initiate change, it makes industry executives nervous. This is understandable when we consider just how many different services, platforms, and software suits are out there, and more are being released in short order. With that being said, the transportation and logistics industries are ripe for change. Some would even say they are long overdue. Now that change is here, it will be up to individual companies to decide the best course of action to embrace these new changes and apply them in the most beneficial way to their own operations.  

It seems the general consensus on the matter is this. Yes, being cautious is a good thing, but there is such a thing as being too cautious. Dragging heels on matters of DSN and other digital solutions might end up costing even more time and money in the future, especially if the competition already has their system figured out.  

How BlueGrace Can Help 

One of the benefits to operating in today’s marketplace is that you don’t have to do it alone. Trying to navigate the nuances of technology as well as working with data is one thing, trying to do it well the first time around is something completely different. This is where we can help.

Our team takes the management of your account and turns it into the opportunity to truly wow you.

Our team takes the management of your account and turns it into the opportunity to truly wow you. From your dedicated support team to the ongoing development of KPI goals, your account is managed at every turn. Driven by data, we continue to grow with you and increase the value of our partnership  

Contact us to learn more about us and how we can help drive your business forward in this digital age.  

Passion AND Logistics: BlueGrace Collects Over 60,000 Pounds of Food for Homeless Animals

Each year, BlueGrace female (Team Cats) and male (Team Dogs) employees compete against each other to see who can collect the most amount of pet food in total pounds. The food is then donated to a no-kill shelter to feed homeless animals in the community and used for pet owner assistance programs that benefit homebound and elderly residents on a fixed income. This year, the employees of BlueGrace collected over 60,000 pounds of food between Tampa & Chicago – reaching a new record for the contest on a location-wide scale.

BlueGrace’s “Cats Vs. Dogs” Pet Food Drive Sets Company’s Location-Wide Record in 2018

Click Below To Watch The Official BlueGrace “Cats Vs Dogs 2018” Video!

Humane Society of Tampa Bay

Employees at BlueGrace Headquarters in Tampa were able to collect over 31,000 pounds of pet food to donate to Humane Society of Tampa Bay. Lon Savini, Shelter Operations Manager, gives us a breakdown of how impactful the donation is to supporting all of the services the shelter provides to the community:


Animeals Delivery Program:

  • Current monthly average spend on cat & dog food: $4,000
  • Delivered to over 170 recipients one Saturday each month

Donation Impact:

  • Will not need to buy large bags of dog food for at least 2 months
  • Will not need to buy large bags of cat food for a at least 1 month
  • Cost Savings: roughly $6,000

Food Assistance Program:

  • Current monthly average spend on cat & dog food: $2,100
  • Food is broken down into smaller bags and handed out to the public in need of assistance to feed their pets

Donation Impact:

  • Will not need to buy food for the remainder of the year
  • Cost Savings: roughly $16,800

Shelter Operations:

  • Current monthly average spend on cat & dog food: $2,350
  • Used to feed animals living at the shelter throughout the year

Donation Impact:

  • Will not need to buy large bags of dog food for at least 4 months
  • Will not need to buy large bags of cat food for a at least 1 month
  • Cost Savings: roughly $6,500

Since inception of the ‘Cats vs Dogs’ pet food drive in 2010, BlueGrace has now donated over 206,000 pounds of pet food to Humane Society of Tampa Bay.

Since inception of the ‘Cats vs Dogs’ pet food drive in 2010, BlueGrace has now donated over 206,000 pounds of pet food to Humane Society of Tampa Bay. The drive culminates each year with an adoption event at BlueGrace headquarters in Tampa, where 8-10 dogs and cats are brought in by the shelter and employees have the opportunity to take a new family member home. Almost all of the animals were adopted and welcomed home to their new BlueGrace families this year!

Team Cats Reclaim Their Title as Reigning Champions!

The competition is fierce each year – from catchy team names (“Check Meowt” & “Woof Pack”) to secret meetings in the restrooms, it’s a good old fashioned battle of the sexes for the entire duration of the drive. BlueGrace employees are not shy about their love for competition, some would argue that drive’s success has a large part to do with the fun of competing against each other. Team Cats had been the reigning champions EVERY year… until just last year. Team Dogs finally defeated the ladies in 2017 and claimed their crown – and they didn’t think twice about rubbing it in.

But not for long. Team Cats took the W this year and regained their title as THE champions…. and to Team Dogs they say – “Who’s cryin’ meow?”

While the competition aspect of the drive is fun for employees, the ultimate goal is to provide as much food as possible for homeless animals in the community. It’s an effort we are completely dedicated to and every year try to find ways to improve the drive.

“It’s amazing to see my coworkers come together in such a big way. It’s a lot of hard work for everyone involved, we donate our own money, use our own contacts, and organize our own fundraisers.” explains Courtney Smith –  Manager, Culture & Engagement for BlueGrace. “it’s truly a genuine representation of who we are as a company and a culture.

Be Caring of ALL Others Includes Animals

With the amount of growth BlueGrace has experienced over the last few years, the contest extended to other regional locations. This resulted in a major win by our Chicago team for animals at the Animal Rescue Foundation of Illinois this year, where BlueGrace employees collected over 32,000 pounds of food. One employee even secured the largest part of the donation, 30,000 lbs., by himself.

“What one office collected as an entity, one employee collected by himself – this is just beyond epic. We just think it’s really awesome that Scott [Collack] reached out and made this opportunity happen – these animals are truly cared about, we’ve got some really great people with some really big hearts in this company” Bobby Harris – CEO of BlueGrace, on Chicago employee Scott Collack securing the 30k donation.

Putting the Passion in Logistics

Core Value #1 is Be Caring of ALL Others at BlueGrace and is probably our most called upon value. It’s essential to our hiring process, the success of our business and the energy of our culture that our employees have some sort of empathetic trait. We work best with those who have compassion for others and truly show it.

“I started in 2011 and I’ve been able to see how much heart and teamwork goes into this every year. We truly live and breathe our core values here, and I think it’s because they were strategically created to align with the environment our team thrives in” says Whitney McKay – Manager of Marketing & Brand for BlueGrace. “There’s a special place in our hearts for animals, so we choose to do something about it by making it part of our culture. At the end of the day, we believe in their mission to end animal homelessness and really try to educate our team to help spread awareness.”

It’s YAPPY Hour, Not Happy Hour

One of the biggest contributing factors to the success of the drive in Tampa was the involvement of the community.

There are two things we can always count on for a big turnout when planning a fundraising event; One: people love animals. Two: people love happy hour.

This year our goal was to get as many people and organizations as possible involved in the Tampa community, and we knew exactly how to bring everyone together. There are two things we can always count on for a big turnout when planning a fundraising event; One: people love animals. Two: people love happy hour.

Hosted by Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, BlueGrace, Humane Society of Tampa Bay and Tampa Tails, the 2018 “Yappy Hour” fundraising event was wildly successful – raising over $4,000. Silent auction prizes were donated by top local companies like the Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Florida Aquarium, Tampa Bay Rays and many more. Several businesses and organizations donated resources such as pet food, money, transportation services, raffle prizes and much more to make the final drive donation totals possible:

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, Stepp’s Towing, Amity Benefits, XPO, Ward Trucking, Dayton Freight, Sunlife, Atlantic Screening, Spaddy’s Coffee, Chewy, Central Pet Distribution, Warburg Pincus, Cigna Health, World of Beer, MOSIClearwater Aquarium, Florida Aquarium, Outback Steakhouse, PDQ, Miller’s Ale House, Crossfit BNI, Orange Theory Fitness, Metropolitan Ministries, Chipotle, Columbia Restaurant, Southern Muscle, Crunch Fitness, Fitness for $10, Top GolfCamp Gladiator, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rays, AMC Theaters, Kraftologee, Mission BBQ, New Belgium, Canine Cabana, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Tampa Tails.

About BlueGrace

Founded in 2009, BlueGrace Logistics is one of the largest third-party logistics (3PL) providers in the United States.  With over 500 employees and working with over 10,000 customers to provide successful shipping solutions, the company has achieved explosive growth in its nearly 10-year operating history. Backed by a $255 million investment by private equity firm Warburg Pincus, the company operates 11 locations nationwide, and its headquarters are in the sunny Tampa Bay area of Florida.

 

Walmart’s OTIF Policy Gets Harder 

On Time In Full is a policy that Walmart created back in 2016 and implemented in August of 2017. In an attempt to drive their proficiency up and costs down, the mega retail chain started targeting their supply chain. Under this policy, suppliers that failed to deliver the total amount of promised goods, to designated stores at the prescribed time are penalized; fined up to three percent of the total shipment value.  

The shipment has to arrive exactly when it’s expected. Not before, and certainly not after.  

It’s not just trying to curb late deliveries, either. The OTIF policy also cracks down on trucks arriving too early, as it can create excess traffic and delays for loading and unloading. For suppliers and trucking companies, this means there’s no leaving early to create a buffer zone. The shipment has to arrive exactly when it’s expected. Not before, and certainly not after.   

In addition to making things more challenging for suppliers to make sure their goods arrive on time, it will bring even more stress on carriers – we discussed this in more detail in our earlier post. With the Electronic Logging Device more closely monitoring hours of service, truckers will be in a tight spot when it comes to making sure that deliveries arrive exactly when they’re supposed to, all while making sure to stay compliant with their working hours.  

A Tough Policy Gets Tougher 

As of April 1st of this year, the company made the policy even harder. Prior to this month, the OTIF policy stated that full truckload shipments needed to meet a 75 percent OTIF rating and less-than-truckload shipments needed to meet 33 percent OTIF to avoid fines. Now, FTL’s are required to meet an 85 percent standard (down from the lofty 95 percent they had originally planned) while LTL requirements have increased to 36 percent.

Keeping products on the shelf is the name of the game for Walmart.

Keeping products on the shelf is the name of the game for Walmart. With increased competition from the likes of Target, Dollar General, and Amazon, the more items Walmart can keep in stock, the less likely they are to lose out to the competition.  

A Necessary Change 

While it’s easy to paint Walmart in a bad light through this policy, they aren’t the only company to enforce such a policy. Competition stores like Target, Kroger, and Walgreens also have similar OTIF policies. If retailers don’t hold the supplier accountable and they don’t make them try to comply, then suppliers can cause backlogs.

With the 90 percent failure rate for full and timely deliveries, Walmart has found a rather convenient way to turn a problem into profit.

According to a Bloomberg report, Walmart had a OTIF success rate hovering around a dismal 10 percent. With the 90 percent failure rate for full and timely deliveries, Walmart has found a rather convenient way to turn a problem into profit. This new policy doesn’t cost the company a dime. In addition to generating money from the fines, increased product availability will also mean increased in-store sales.  

Given that Walmart is such a heavy hitter for suppliers, suppliers will have little choice but to either comply or lose out on some considerable business. With the extra revenue generation, Walmart can take that money and reinvest in its e-commerce business.  

A Hard Place for Small Suppliers 

While larger companies have no problem meeting delivery quotas, it’s the LTL deliveries that are going to take the brunt of the OTIF policy. Considering the strained nature of supply chain as it is, especially in the trucking sector. ELD and HoS mandates are pitting truckers against the clock as it stands. Couple that with the driver shortage and rising demand for LTL, and capacity becomes even more limited.   

Couple that with the driver shortage and rising demand for LTL, and capacity becomes even more limited.   

At least in that regard, the company has cut smaller suppliers a little slack, which is the reason that LTL shipments have less than half the requirements of their FTL counterparts. An LTL doesn’t schedule a delivery to a Walmart [distribution center] until the freight arrives at the terminal.

In order to avoid hefty fines being levied by Walmart and other retailers such as Kroger and Walgreens, suppliers are going to have to tighten and fine tune their logistics and supply chain considerably, especially given the current tight capacity environment.  

Do You Need Help With OTIF Issues?

A 3PL, such as BlueGrace, can help your business overcome the challenges of OTIF and other supply chain issues. If you have questions about OTIF or just how to simplify your current transportation program, feel free to contact us via phone at 800.MY.SHIPPING or using the form below and we will be happy to assist.

The Long Bumpy Road to Blockchain in Trucking

With rapid advancements in interconnectivity, such as the Internet of Things and the added advantage of instant data streaming, the freight industry has been devouring data technology as a whole and is getting a much-needed overhaul. Yet, the picture is incomplete. There are still some serious gaps, tracking being a great example of this. While shippers may have a general idea of where the freight is during its transit, often it is difficult or impossible to pinpoint the exact location and the estimated time of delivery.

Let’s face it, trucking is the life force of this country.

Communication within the industry also leaves a lot to be desired. Throughout the industry, many companies are using different systems for recording freight which allows some data to be lost in translation. That might be the reason why there is some considerable hype being built around blockchain technology. In fact, this hype is gaining some serious momentum when you consider there is a new faction, the Blockchain in Transportation Alliance (BiTA) that is working to find blockchain solutions for some of the most common trucking problems. Let’s face it, trucking is the life force of this country. Trucks are moving approximately 70 percent of the nation’s freight. As a whole, it represents over 80 percent of the nation’s freight bill. That being said, they could use all the help they can get to make the process more efficient.

Privatized Blockchain for the Industry

There is a considerable amount of potential within blockchain technology. As a data service, it can track and categorize every transaction through a products life-cycle.

For a logistics decision maker, the ability to pinpoint the location of various assets, both tangible and intangible, is invaluable.

For a logistics decision maker, the ability to pinpoint the location of various assets, both tangible and intangible, is invaluable. Within every step of the shipping process, blockchain can track the data and provide analyzable and actionable information which allows for more accurate and efficient decision making. As it’s a shared platform, the necessity for a privatized blockchain for the U.S. becomes apparent. Of course, that privatization isn’t necessarily exclusive, but rather separate from other blockchains used just for the industry. This would give shippers, carriers, freight brokers, 3PLs and anyone else in the BiTA consortium who needs to be in the know, access to a transaction ledger. BiTA’s goal, as a standards organization, is to develop a common framework to encourage the development of blockchain applications for asset tracking, transaction process and overall logistics management. All of which is geared at turning the trucking industry into something more intelligent and efficient.

…and The Seemingly Never-Ending Capacity Issue

Think about some of the most common issues within the industry. Manufacturers and shippers have a hard time finding available capacity. Putting aside the driver shortage for a moment, it makes no sense that it’s so difficult to find capacity when there’s an average of 29 billion empty or partially loaded miles per year. It also helps to understand that the trucking industry itself is incredibly fragmented in the United States. There are over 1.5 million trucking companies fielding close to 3.5 million drivers. While that might seem like a lot, 90 percent of those companies have access to six trucks or less. That makes it even more difficult for shippers to match up with carriers, both of whom need each other.

Matching a shipper’s demand to a carrier’s supply is just one of the many ailments within the industry that can be alleviated by blockchain technology.

Matching a shipper’s demand to a carrier’s supply is just one of the many ailments within the industry that can be alleviated by blockchain technology. There are many in the industry, both startups and legacy companies alike that believe that blockchain technology can make routing more efficient, cutting down on fuel costs and increasing productivity.

 

Source: Next Autonomous

In reality, blockchain has a near limitless amount of potential, if it can get off the ground that is.

Considering how varied the industry is with so many different players in the game, it can help to unify the trucking industry to help it become more efficient as a whole. Logistics planners can see the “whole picture” rather than just pieces of it at a time. With real-time data, they can make better decisions to make the industry leaner and smoother overall. In reality, blockchain has a near limitless amount of potential, if it can get off the ground that is.

The Blockchain Obstacles  

As with any new technology, there will be some hurdles and obstacles that need to be cleared in order for it to become successful. The first issue is that everyone needs to trust in the technology and believe it to be the sole source of truth for the industry. While most people will believe in the system they are working with, it’s a little more complicated with blockchain. As a crypto-technology, it is incredibly secure and the data is locked. That being said, nothing can be changed, altered, or corrupted. It becomes carved in a digital stone, for lack of a better term. Because the technology is distributed, there isn’t a sole governing authority for the data either. In short, it’s a double-edged sword. Data can’t be lost or tampered with, but it also can’t be altered. This means that there needs to be absolute faith that the data within is a genuine accounting of transactions.

If there is any hope of uniting the industry and reducing the inefficiencies of fragmentation, everyone will have to play the game.

Secondly, blockchain will need total participation from smaller companies, both shippers and carriers. If there is any hope of uniting the industry and reducing the inefficiencies of fragmentation, everyone will have to play the game. Much the same as trust. The problem here is that smaller companies often have a hard time drumming up the necessary capital to invest in new technology. The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate is a perfect example of this. Larger companies had no problem, and many were prepared well before the deadline. Smaller companies, on the other hand, watched the deadline come and go with only 37 percent of 1,600 fleets in compliance with the ruling prior to the deadline. Trying to get that many smaller companies on board with the same, or at least compatible software will definitely be an uphill battle. However, once that’s done, you’ll have an entire industry, shippers, carriers and brokers alike completely connected and collaborating on a frictionless network.

Simply put, there is some tremendous potential for blockchain and it could very well revolutionize the industry.

Lastly, the industry as a whole needs to accept data standardization. Everyone does things a little differently, which might work in the fragmented mess that it is now, but in order for blockchain to not become a convoluted jungle of indecipherable data strings, it all needs to be standardized. This is something that BiTA is trying to spearhead by working on standardization from the outset. If the history of the trucking industry has taught us anything, it’s that incorporating blockchain technology universally across the sector is another obstacle that won’t be so easy to get around. A difference in programs could mean a time-intensive process for integration to simply make the program work with the blockchain, nevermind the data entry in itself. Simply put, there is some tremendous potential for blockchain and it could very well revolutionize the industry. However, it’s going to be a long and bumpy road before we get to the smooth workings and benefit from what blockchain could provide.

Working With a 3PL Like BlueGrace

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:

Choosing the Right 3PL to Align with Your Business Strategy

Most shippers don’t spend much time worrying about who is driving the trucks carrying their goods, but choosing a 3PL with the right carrier network makes all the difference when your business is expanding. B2B and B2C networks are increasingly determined by where the customer is, rather than a companies’ geographical location. With more business moving to online, you need to be prepared to meet your customers where they are. 

When your customers need change, you want to be able to say “yes.” But logistics is a complicated business and when you are examining your choices, there are some factors to consider.

The first step is to understand your internal requirements – consider what your specific needs are before looking for a 3PL. Questions to ask include, what modes of transportation and what services you will need? What volumes do you plan to ship and where? Do you have specific security or visibility requirements? Are your shipments time-sensitive? The list goes on… Despite their expertise, 3PLs are only as useful as their knowledge of your business and customer requirements. 

The right 3PL will also have a network density that connects you with the right carrier, at the right location and with the right capacity and expertise.

Start with Carrier Partnerships

Whether you are shipping intra-warehouse or last-mile, it’s important that your 3PL  has the capabilities to make it happen. Two considerations are technology and partnerships.  

Shippers should look for a partner that allows them to quote, track and control invoicing for their LTL and FTL shipments, across a nationwide carrier network. Because your shipping partner is responsible for integrating different shipments, they are responsible for implementing technology that provides visibility to your shipment across their network of trucks and more. 

The right 3PL will also have a network density that connects you with the right carrier, at the right location and with the right capacity and expertise. With capacity being tight these days, partnering with the right 3PL will increases the chances that your time-critical shipments will be delivered on time and at a competitive price. That means, if you have warehousing and delivery needs in Houston, your 3PL  should have vehicles available to accommodate those needs, and quickly. 

Door to Door deliveries

Not all trucking companies handle door-to-door deliveries and some don’t have to. What matters is that your 3PL is partnered with carriers that offer fleet capabilities that meet your needs. For your urban customers, the trucking company might need to deploy a fleet of smaller trucks or even vans. If your requirements are FTL B2B shipments, you need a trucking company with that sort of capacity. For many shippers, their requirements fall in-between, or into the ‘all-of-the-above category.’ In those cases, your 3PL needs to have a range of carriers available to facilitate your business. 

Experience matters

Shippers should ask themselves if their 3PL understands their business and customer base. For example, a company shipping high-value electronics, will want to check with their 3PL about security protocols. Are trucks secured? Is there a system in place to alert management when drivers divert course? Proactive 3PLs will have systems in place so that your customers can rely on you in turn.  

Shipping disruption is an unfortunate reality in the business, ranging from weather disruptions to dock strikes. The right 3PL will have a plan in place to make sure that you are taken care of. 

Do the services match the requirements?

Some 3PLs specialize in specific modes of transportation, commodities, dealing with regulations and origin/destinations. Others are generalists. Make sure that you ask potential 3PLs if they have experience handling the cargo that your business will be shipping. The right partner for your business will be able to walk you through the different steps required, allowing all parties to agree on the correct protocols and procedures.  Reviewing a 3PLs Case Study library can help you better understand their expertise.

How many modes?

There are four common modes – ocean road, air, and rail. Many 3PLs will offer “intermodal” services, but if they don’t have the size and experience to properly manage that freight in-transit, they are essentially handing off responsibility to another party. 

To avoid this uncertainty, make sure your 3PL works with established rail and intermodal carriers. That way, you get the most options. Offering a variety of modes that let shippers choose slower transit times when possible, which lowers costs. On the flip side, if you need something shipped fast, having a 3PL with a dedicated expedite team will help to ensures that your shipment gets where it’s going, in the time it needs to be there.

How’s their customer service? 

This might seem too obvious to print, but it’s important to distinguish between friendly phone conversations and 3PLs that can get you the information you need when you need it. If there’s a disruption or other events along the shipment chain, you need a 3PL that can reach out proactively to help you make the necessary adjustments on your end. There will always be disruptions, but that doesn’t mean they need to put you on your back heels. 

Customer service is also about finding a 3PL that’s willing to take the time to help you set up the right solution. If your business is experiencing sudden growth, you might not have all the answers.

Is your 3PL BlueGrace?

At BlueGrace, our freight specialists work with you every step of the way to understand your requirements and set up a solution that’s tailored to your needs. 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. Our 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, contact us using the form below: 

Education vs. Experience – by Dusty King, Franchise Owner of BlueGrace Atlanta Northeast

I believe I suffer from a wonderful condition called ADHD… like most entrepreneurs do. Either that or I’m as stubborn as my wife says I am.

I decided from a very early age that school and the classroom were not for me and I couldn’t be convinced otherwise. Not that my parents, teachers, and counselors didn’t try I just was’t hearing it! At the time I couldn’t find any reason why I needed to be sitting in a classroom learning (X-Y+Z = 3) or memorizing the elements on the periodic table.

I felt these formulas and theories did not apply to my quest of owning a business. Whether this was a correct way of thinking is another topic in itself.

I never envisioned myself climbing the corporate ladder. I always planned on building my own ladder and didn’t need to climb someone else’s to get to where I wanted or needed to be. When I get an idea and know the direction I want to go there is no force on this planet that will sway or derail me. It’s just how I’m wired. Not everyone’s path is the same. There is no “right” or “wrong” path to take in my opinion.

In bypassing the college route, I had a much earlier start in the s0-called “real world” than if I had gone to college and partied for 4 years. This is how I envisioned college.

I had done enough partying in high school for a life time and it was time to start working, making money and gaining real world working/business knowledge that would benefit me when the opportunity came to start my own business.

I knew I would benefit more from “real world” experiences over sitting in a classroom for four years being lectured about them. I am a hands-on learner, and the only way for it to stick was to learn from my mistakes.

To me, each job I worked was like earning credits toward earning my “major” in business. The opportunities were about learning the business and thinking of ways to do the job better as if it were my own.

I didn’t work for paycheck, I worked to live the dream… I worked to learn how to become an entrepreneur. The older I get, my thirst for knowledge grows tremendously. There is a part of me that wishes I would have pursued an education at an earlier age and one of my goals is to do so in the future. I am not one who shuns education alltogether. In fact, I have placed education on a very high pedestal and will do everything in my power to put my children on the path to a higher education when their time comes. I guess I was just a unique case.

The biggest thing I lacked from not going to college was building strong organization, time management & processing skills that I ended up having had to learn the hard way. This is an aspect of business that I lacked for some time.

If you’re trying to decide what path you should take to live your dream (whatever that may be), I would say think long and hard about it. Entrepreneurship is hard enough as it is, so don’t set yourself back to the beginning if you don’t need to.

There are VERY valuable skills that one develops at college outside of the classrooms and books. Life has a funny way of showing these things and they become clearer as you get older. To be an entrepreneur, you must realize that you’re going to have to be more driven and self-reliant than ever. Skipping college doesn’t mean that your education is over, it’s really just the beginning. So take every opportunity to learn from your peers and take it upon yourself to self-educate and stay ahead of the curve. Be creative and listen to those around you.

You CAN do it, it’s just gonna take a little more fine tuning on your own. But again everyone is different and no one knows YOU like YOU do. At the end of the day you are accountable for your decisions and no one else.

Dusty King, franchise owner of BlueGrace Atlanta Northeast
Dusty King, franchise owner of BlueGrace Atlanta Northeast

BlueGrace Scheduled to Host Talent Acquisition Blitz (TAB) in Chicago, February 24-25

BlueGrace Logistics, one of the fastest-growing logistics services firms in the country, is enhancing our presence in the Chicago area.

To support our hyper-growth, we are opening an office in Oak Brook, IL, a suburb of Chicago. The BlueGrace Talent Acquisition Blitz (TAB) in Chicago will take place February 24-25, in an effort to scout new recruits to join our team.

BlueGrace President and CEO, Bobby Harris, is expected to be in attendance to meet with prospects and hand select the top candidates to help grow the Chicago office. TAB will be held at our Chicago headquarters: 700 Commerce Drive in Oak Brook.

We will be looking to fill 20 positions, including sales, truckload operations, customer service and management positions. All new hires to join our Chicago team will receive a $1,000 signing bonus!

Candidates can submit their resume via email to careers@mybluegrace.com, as well as request information about the company by visiting www.mybluegrace.com/bluegrace_careers.

BlueGrace Logistics on Fox & Friends

BlueGrace Logistics was featured on Fox & Friends segment “On the Job Hunt” on Fox News Channel on Tuesday, February 4! This segment discusses companies that are currently hiring. They mentioned how we have open positions in both our Tampa and Chicago office, including sales, customer service and operations.

Check out the clip by clicking here: Fox & Friends – On the Job Hunt 2/4/14

However, there were some errors in the segment that need to be addressed. In the first mention of BlueGrace, the reporter mispronounces our name, saying “BlueGrass Logistics…” Yea, like the music. Just so you know, we’re not hiring banjo players!

They then go onto to describe us a company who does “bubble-wrapping” and say that we’ll “take care of the tape for you.” Well, that is not remotely close to what we do.

We are true consultants. To simplify it, think of BlueGrace Logistics as the Expedia of freight (no pun intended). We have a full staff of freight experts and have built a proprietary and cutting-edge transportation management system called BlueShip. We are the middleman between customers and transportation carriers to provide more options to businesses and bring in more revenue to carriers. Overall, our business model drives productivity into our industry.

Are you interested in learning more about job opportunities with BlueGrace Logistics? Please click here.

BlueGrace CFO, Mike Dolski, Named Finalist in Tampa Bay Business Journal’s 2014 CFO of the Year!

 

Dolski pic
Mike Dolski, CFO of BlueGrace Logistics

BlueGrace Logistics is honored to have our CFO, Mike Dolski, named as one of the finalists in the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s 2014 CFO of the Year. Mike has implemented a number of successful strategies that have led to success and growth for BlueGrace. He implemented “Rules of Engagement,” which has compelled both our organization and our partners to build strong, mutually beneficial relationships. This strategic move has helped BlueGrace grow more than 7,000 percent from 2009-2013.

Mike has also played a crucial role in positioning BlueGrace to prepare for the growth of our franchise channel. He mentors new franchisees, helping them understand the importance of protecting their initial cash flow versus maximizing their initial gross profit.

“It was unexpected but I’m honored to be considered for this,” Mike said. “We have all worked very hard to create a fun and strong company and I’m appreciative that my efforts, and the efforts of our wonderful employees, have resulted in my inclusion on this list.”

An awards ceremony will be held on February 26 at A La Carte Event Pavilion to honor finalists. Congratulations Mike!

Fitting the Bill – The Benefits of Intermodal Shipping

With Trucking providing competitive rates and shipments more manageable than ever, why would anyone look to an option with limitations such as intermodal shipping? Naturally one would think there is a more efficient option nowadays than using the old Transcontinental Railroad for transporting goods.

The answer may surprise you. Intermodal shipping has actually been on the rise and offers a unique set of benefits that can actually suit some shipments better than the most popular option of trucking.


Pros of Intermodal

  • Typically cheaper than over the road full truck loads
  • Great for long distance Shipments – Coast to Coast or Over 800 miles
  • Multiple rail providers have increased availability and competitive pricing
  • Not estimated rates – Pricing is locked in

With the pros, come the cons of Intermodal

  • Freight cannot be time sensitive
  • Only full loads- cannot move “LTL” – moves as a 53 ft container
  • Must book with 24 hours’ notice
  • MAX weight – 43,500 lbs

How about an example of how Intermodal is great for long distance project moves?

BlueGrace Intermodal freight

A customer of ours was in the midst of plans to relocate their warehouse from Chicago, Illinois to Houston, Texas and needed to ship over 40 full load shipments to their new location.

Seems easy enough, right? For a truckload representative, they think they just got the sale of month! Unfortunately for them, Intermodal priced each load $300 cheaper for than over the road. Instantly, shipping by rail presented a $12,000 difference in savings over the freight spend for 40 full truckloads. If pricing alone wasn’t enough, there were additional benefits that ended up making Intermodal the crucial choice.

During the move they loaded 3 containers per night, staggered the deliveries to by letting them go to the rail yard and sit when needed (rail yards give 1-2 days of free time, in comparison having to pay a driver to sit overnight or get detention on a delivery). In addition, one carrier was scheduling all the appointments which eliminated the confusion with multiple truckload drivers

For this customer, shipping Intermodal made the whole difference. Rail provided them with the flexibility to manage a successful move by saving over $10,000 in freight costs alone, by allowing them the capability to stage the delivery as needed so that the receiving warehouse would not be overloaded, and avoided a potential logistics nightmare with 40 different trucks from different carriers.

Next time you are looking to make a sizable, long distance shipment, make sure to check out any intermodal shipping options.   Contact a rail shipping representative today. You can also request a rail freight shipping quote to see cost savings.

 

BlueGrace Logistics

Got Freight? Get a Quick and Easy Freight Quote
1-800-MY-SHIPPING

Proof of the Power of Twitter and Employee Ideas

BlueGrace Logistics is always seeking out new ways to keep employees excited about upcoming events and holidays. As a company that supports a strong corporate culture above all else, finding ideas to mix up the BlueGrace experience can be challenging.  With a long history full of successful dress theme and costume days, BBQs, sporting events, chili cook-offs, prize giveaway challenges, charitable competitions, as well as holiday games like Secret Santa and in-office Easter egg hunts, it can be difficult to think of the next great thing.

Recently a BlueGrace employee, Brandice Tossas, took it upon herself to serve up something really cool for BlueGrace Logistics in Riverview, Florida. Before going into what event took the office by storm from this Brandice’s idea and individual effort, it’s important to mention another key part of the BlueGrace culture that made this event possible – Twitter.

BlueGrace Logistics Employee - Brandice Tossas

All employees of BlueGrace Logistics have their own Twitter handle and are encouraged to Tweet regularly, even during business hours when time allows. BlueGrace is heavily involved in all social platforms, and puts an emphasis on employee involvement as part of the general corporate culture. Yet, for this employee’s idea, the company’s social engagement on Twitter brought forth a special opportunity that benefited everyone.

Follow BlueGrace Logistics on Twitter!

Brandice had become aware of a special traveling tour that had been going cross country providing samples of their new products and had the idea of trying to get them to come to BlueGrace Logistics. This was no ordinary product launch tour, this was Ben & Jerry’s Truck Tour offering new flavors of their new Greek Frozen Yogurt flavors! She started tagging Ben & Jerry’s in tweets asking for them to stop by BlueGrace during their Florida tour, and after multiple tweets, she got a response!

With a BlueGrace stop possible for the Ben & Jerry’s Truck Tour, Employees took to Twitter to reinforce Brandice’s request and to express how awesome it would be if the tour stopped by the office. The result?  The Ben & Jerry’s Truck Tour made its official BlueGrace Logistics stop at 11am on Tuesday, May 22nd!

When announced that Ben & Jerry’s had arrived, it was like seeing kids go after an ice cream truck. BlueGrace employees lined up in full force and stood around gloating in the glory of free frozen yogurt. The Florida heat spared us with a slight overcast afternoon so that we could enjoy eating without having the cold treat melt down in seconds.

 

The event ended up being a huge success by creating a special experience that the employees never had in a corporate setting, got free ice cream to interrupt their work day, and even better got to bond with other co-workers when they normally would not have the chance. In addition, this was only possible through the suggestion of a BlueGrace employee and proof of the power of Twitter in the BlueGrace corporate culture.

See more pictures from the Ben & Jerry’s Truck Tour on BlueGrace Logistics’ Facebook page

 

BlueGrace Logistics

Got Freight? Get a Quick and Easy Freight Quote
1-800-MY-SHIPPING

Port of Possibilites: The Expansion of the Port of Tampa

The expansion of a port city can have a strong effect on the host city and its economy. Expansion on the shipping industry in a particular region drives everything from employment to home prices. On September 3, 2007 , the Panama Canal began expansion with a scheduled completion in late 2014. The expansion of the port will allow for larger cargo ships to pass through the canal; which will make shipping out of Asia into the Eastern United States much more cost effective. In order to align with the projected growth in the shipping industry as a result of this expansion, The Port of Tampa has launched an aggressive Port Expansion project as well.

The current global shipping situation mandates that large sea carriers from Asia  must navigate around  South America in order to access the eastern United States, and vice versa. The expansion of the Panama Canal will allow for large sea carriers to pass through, and hence permit a more economical way to ship from Asia to the Midwest and Eastern United States. On July 26, 2012 the Port of Tampa purchased 110 acres from South Bay Corp and Industrial park to facilitate the expansion of the port facility near Gibsonton, FL. This land purchase is setting stage for the Port of Tampa to expand and gain a slice of the anticipated growth in the freight shipping industry as a result of the expansion of the Port of Panama.  The expansion of the Port of Tampa will directly affect our local economy through the addition of jobs and driving local industries.

Blue Grace Logistics has made a reputation for being a progressive freight transportation company focused on providing the very best in cost effective and time efficient services to their customers. The expansion of the Port of Tampa, more specifically the terminal in Gibsonton will put Blue Grace in an even better position to possibly add value to the local economy. Inc. 500 recently recognized Blue Grace Logistics with a Hire Power 2012 award for being a hero in Job Creation. The expansion of the Port of Tampa further positions Blue Grace to possibly offer employment opportunities resulting from increased freight traffic, a few years the changes take place.  We may have the opportunity to help our customers capitalize on more cost effective shipping, which will assist them in growing a more successful business.

Responsibility to the community in which you operate is crucial to business success. Blue Grace Logistics has continually contributed to the success of our local economy. As the expansion of the Port of Panama concludes in 2014, and US ports begin to see increased traffic; the City of Tampa will experience exponential growth. As a national leader in the Logistics and Transportation Industry, Blue Grace Logistics is poised to improve on the services offered to our current and prospective customers. The expansion of the Port of Tampa is an exciting and encouraging sign that our city is and will continue to thrive and be a shining beacon in our nation’s economy.

What impacts do you think this Port Expansion will have on our local economy? Nationally?

Currently, BlueGrace offers a variety of international shipping services, domestic freight forwarding services, LTL, TL and more. Check out our services and technology for more information on our company and if you have any questions on how we can help you. You can also call us at 1.800.MY.SHIPPING for more information.

Logistics in the U.S. – Facts at a Glance

Logistics in the U.S. - Facts at a Glance Every facet of American life is touched by transportation. With freight being the economic staple that it is, every haul is a piece of a complex logistical puzzle that powers our nation. We’ve dug up some interesting factoids to help shed some light on just how large of a role transportation plays!

  • The US is comprised of 566 railroads (138,623 railroad miles).
  • Total 2011 U.S. logistics spend was estimated at $1.28 trillion up 6.6% over 2010.
  • According to the 2012 3PL Study, shippers who partner with third-party logistics providers report an average cost reduction of 13% and nearly two-thirds (64%) of survey respondents reported an increase in their use of outsourced logistics services.
  • 3.5 Million: The approximate number of truck drivers moving America’s freight. To put this in perspective, 1 in every 15 people working in the U.S. is employed in the trucking industry.
  • The transportation and warehousing sector totaled 4.292 million people in 2011. You can be an addition to this number, check out a career with BlueGrace Logistics!
  • Fact: Trucking is the dominate mode of transportation for our nation’s freight movement by approximately 71%.
  • 1.2 Million: The number of trucking companies operating in the U.S.
  • The highest-valued imported products in the U.S. include: agricultural products 4.9%, industrial supplies 32.9% (crude oil 8.2%), capital goods 30.4% (computers, telecommunications equipment, motor vehicle parts, office machines, electric power machinery), consumer goods 31.8% (automobiles, clothing, medicines, furniture, toys).
  • There are 149 ports located in the U.S.  South Louisiana, Houston, New York/New Jersey, and Long Beach often hitting the top of the list when ranked by tonnage or TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units).
  • American businesses transported over 19 billion tons of raw materials and finished goods in 2002, valued at $13 trillion (including domestic commodity movements and domestic transportation of exports and imports).
  • More than $1 out of every $10 produced in the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) is related to transportation activity.

After exposing your brain to all of this info, the importance of transportation should be crystal clear. You can see how each load is merely a link to an ever-globalizing supply chain. There’s never been a better time to get involved in this industry!

Any of these numbers surprise you? Share your logistics facts and figures with us!

Let us know what you think!

VOTE BlueGrace Logistics as your Top 3PL

Vote BlueGrace Logistics as your Top 3PL ProviderEach year Inbound Logistics releases a Readers’ Choice Top 10 3PL Excellence survey for shippers and businesses to express their appreciation for their best third party logistics provider. It is our mission to serve you with world class technology and outstanding customer service daily while offering simplicity and reduced freight costs.

Here are Top 3 Reasons to Vote BlueGrace as Top 3PL:

  1. OMG Service: Our team of dedicated logistics support experts is always eager to assist throughout the shipping process. Contact them via email, chat directly from our website, phone 1-800-MY-SHIPPING, or social networks! To see what customers are saying about shipping with BlueGrace, read Customer Reviews on Facebook.
  2. Simplicity with Technology: BlueGrace Logistics offer advanced logistics technology and shipping tools to simplify your freight shipping. This allows you to focus on your core competencies and leave the shipping to us!
  3. Logistics Champs: We’re proud sponsors of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters – it’s just one way we build relationships between our employees, customers, and logistics partners by participating in this common sports interest. Inc Magazine interviewed BlueGrace Logistics President and CEO, Bobby Harris, in their June edition to get the scoop on the MMA involvement.

Please take a moment to cast your vote for BlueGrace Logistics as your Top 3PL. Thanks in advance for your support!

If you are interested in learning more about the “BGExperience,” contact our friendly team today to get truckin’ on the road to streamlined shipping with BlueGrace Logistics!

– Samantha Hill, Community Manager
Follow: @SamHill_BG

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

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!

#BGInvestigates: Why not use a 3PL?!

No acronym boils the blood of a BlueGrace® Logistics employee more than “3PL”. In our experience, this acronym conveys an adopted meaning that doesn’t give justice to the value added service BlueGrace delivers. We believe 3PL providers should be an extension of your business, not an outsourced process. So instead of a “3PL”, we consider ourselves a Logistics Service Provider.

Phrasing is not the reason that decision makers stray from 3PLs. To further understand the issue, BlueGrace investigated internally. Here are the most common concerns:

 “I’ve been burned by other 3PL’s, so now I steer clear…”

This could be the most common objection to any business considering a new 3PL. To those questioning the use of 3PL’s, we say, “Well you haven’t experienced BlueGrace.” Completely nixing all 3PLs from your life is the wrong move. We have learned the most common reason for failed 3PL partnerships is billing resolutions. At BlueGrace, we take certain precautions to safeguard against mistakes. We know that re-classes and re-weighs are the heartache of any shipper’s existence. Our new and enhanced BlueShip Transportation Management System allows users to enter weight and dimensions into their customized portal; alerting the shipper to contact their rep if the shipment requires special attention (pricing, class, etc.).

Another concern is the lack of education from the provider to the customer. This results in miscommunication and animosity, which potentially leads to a short-lived business relationship. It’s vital for you, the shipper, to understand what we provide. A good Logistics Service Provider (or 3PL) will help their customer understand resources like NMFC codes, cubic capacity and linear feet guidelines.

“If we can be of help, we will. If not, we tell you. We want to create mutually beneficial relationships and properly educate our customers,” says Eric Chambers, Sr VP of Sales.

“You don’t own your own trucks, so why should I trust you with my freight?”

That’s a good question. BlueGrace Logistics has a strong network of top rated carriers to handle our customer’s goods. We use a scorecard with each carrier to monitor overall performance such as damages in transit and punctuality. Our carrier partnerships allow us to negotiate competitive rates on your behalf. Take advantage of the lower costs that the buying power of the right 3PL can get you.

BlueGrace Logistics provides free quotes and internal audits of your current logistics processes. For any questions in regard to your shipping needs call 1.800.MY.SHIPPING

So, we hope this topic was helpful in identifying your concerns in determining whether or not working with a 3PL is right for you. Give us a call, send an email, or follow us on Twitter (@mybluegrace) for more on these important subjects as #BGInvestigates.

Visit us online at www.mybluegrace.com

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

Response to a Fool

A recent discussion on Linkedin regarding 3PL’s in the transportation market included a number of foolish comments made by a clearly disgruntled freight carrier sales rep. Below are the highlights from his misinformed, one dimensional, price hoarding rant, followed by my b*#!@ slap…

  • “Most shippers of any regular frequency have become fairly saavy during the “great recession”. Most accounts I call on are turning away 3PLs because they don’t provide a value added. Even in the case of a small shipper (5-10 LTL shipments per month), I regularly see the difference in the 3PL price and the direct-to-carrier price to be under $10.00 on an average pallet sized shipment…”
  • “A few 3PLs are great partners for both the customer and the carrier. Most are not. They regularly call the carrier with no idea of what is going on with a shipment THEY scheduled or the customer cannot get an answer on a shipment, claim, pickup, etc…”
  • “I have worked in one of the largest markets in the country and in one of the smallest and the song remains the same, an 800 number, a computer and assorted tariffs from multiple carriers do not a logistics provider make.”
  • “…what I do know about most 3PLs is: 1) They depress freight rates which directly impacts the livelihood and opportunity of carrier associates. 3PLs don’t create freight, they create lower profitability on the freight that exists. 2) They will undercut their carrier “partners” without hesitation yet howl in indignation if a carrier dare “back solicit” a customer. 3) Frequently mislead or directly lie to a customer about how the customer-3PL-customer relationship is defined from a legal perspective. 4) No carrier does business with a 3PL because they want to. Why would they? It invariably results in the carrier moving the same freight at a decreased O/R.”

I’m also going to disagree with you on a number of fronts. There may be a number of 3PL’s who operate as such but you clearly underestimate the value in which a 3PL brings to a carrier. It’s obvious as to why you would have such bias. A good 3PL partnership does not hurt the carrier, it hurts the rep. The historic mentality of a carrier rep is to sell on price, price, price.

Of course, a carrier will make less direct profit on a shipment when the revenue is less. What you are overlooking is that the carrier has significantly less overhead on that shipment. The revenue may be less, but the profit % will be higher. The carrier is not paying a sales rep salary, car, commission, expenses, insurance, cell phone, etc. on that shipment. They are not paying the rent, electric bill, office supplies, phone service, etc. for sales to secure that shipment. With a 3PL using EDI and TMS, the carrier is not paying the administrative expense of tracking, uploading W&I or POD’s or communicating this with customers via phone or email. I could go on and on. This is a statistical reality and of course I would expect this to be overlooked by a sales rep losing out on commissions and thinking this is just a matter or price v. price.

Also way understated is the value of the 3PL. You are right that a carrier would not deal with a 3PL if it didn’t have to. But they have to – because a good 3PL can and does provide value that the carrier cannot. The carrier cannot provide a single source for data management, data warehousing, a single source for tracking, shipping documents, addresses, product information, carrier procurement and rate negotiating, unbiased carrier scorecards, etc. some of the best carriers, partners like SEFL or Con-way, can only provide the services that SEFL or Con-Way provide. Even YRC, who has some of the better technology, is leagues behind what a good 3PL can do. Customers cannot pay the hundreds of thousands of $ to purchase a TMS and even if they did and attempt to manage their own transportation, they are doing so at the expense of their core competencies.

A carrier and especially a carrier rep can only provide “Freight” Services, and as we all can see, this discussion group is for freight as well as LOGISTICS and SUPPLY CHAIN – two things which go way beyond the scope of what any one direct carrier can offer.

-Nick Klingensmith, Director of Sales and Personnel Development
Twitter: TheBGexperience

The Blurry Line Between LTL and Small Parcel

Often the line between the use or difference of UPS and freight services may seem a bit blurry.  Most would agree it’s easier to ship a few boxes via UPS Small Parcel versus LTL (less-than-truckload) via a third party logistics solutions provider…. And at times, it may be the best option.  Although with a bit of information you may learn the benefits of using an LTL provider. 

Here are a few thoughts to consider before shipping:

  • How many boxes are shipping to the same location?
  • If you have a few boxes shipping to the same location it may be advantageous to use an LTL provider.  Why? Well, you can assure that all of the boxes will reach the destination at the same time. 
  • Most people believe LTL providers only move palletized material – WRONG. You do not have to put them on a pallet. However doing so may offer a sense of comfort and confidence knowing that they will arrive together. The average cost of a pallet is under $5.00.
  • What are the dimensions and specs? How long or heavy is the box? A UPS Small Parcel provider is equipped to carry smaller, lighter boxes.  Therefore when the boxes reach certain dimensions or weight the transportation provider will charge additional fees.  These fees can be avoided if shipping with an LTL Freight carrier – and the package may qualify as a “minimum” charge depending on the distance.

There are many other factors to consider when choosing to ship through UPS Small Parcel versus LTL services provider.  Hopefully these helpful tips have provided you with more resources to help your decision making a smoother process and also save your wallet!

If you have any questions, please contact a member of our team at BlueGrace Logistics to help with your shipping needs!
800-MY-SHIPPING
Twitter: @myBlueGrace

– Vanessa Castillo, Sales Manager
Follow me @Vanessa_BGmngr

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