Browse Tag

transportation industry

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:

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.

Rate Reductions Coincide with Fuel Price Decreases

Gas Prices

Gas prices are now reaching under 3 dollars for the first time since 2010! It seems like a miracle driving around seeing signs in the 2’s, but it IS a reality. Obviously the lowering of the price of gas is due to a drop on the price of oil, but do you know why? Researchers say there are various reasons, such as drilling in Iraq and Libya, or because Americans have reduced fuel usage in the past few years by driving more efficient cars and/or carpooling in order to save money, while in turn creating an overstock of fuel. The low gas prices are predicted to last through the holidays, however, it is likely they will rise above 3 dollars by spring or summer.

Do these new gas prices lower shipping rates? It is a little early to say but it is likely to happen, as carriers will have extra money for gas. Transportation such as bus and airfares have not yet lowered and may not, since the holidays are still the most expensive time to travel, and the demand during the season does not subside.

Make sure to check back for more updates on reduced rates!

Will This Year’s Election Impact The Transportation Industry?

Election

The answer is YES. Most states will be voting on different propositions that deal with transportation and traffic. In Florida alone, three different counties will vote on these issues: Polk, Alachua and Pinellas.

In Polk County, voters will head to the polls to decide whether their sales tax should increase by a penny. The increase will equate to approximately 64 million dollars per year and will be divided evenly for road improvements and transit.

In Alachua County, a similar one cent referendum is proposed, but for a contracted period of eight years. Only a portion of the money would be spent on roads and transit, with the remaining funds spent on pedestrian projects.

In Pinellas County, voters will decide on a one cent sales tax increase that will be spent on bus expansion and a rail system that will link Saint Petersburg and Clearwater.

Many other states are voting on similar propositions like Austin, Texas. Austin is among the heaviest traffic congested cities in America. There is a state proposition for highway and transit improvements, and also a city proposition for a new rail system with nearly a one billion dollar price tag.

This election has the ability to improve our highways and relieve the roads of their congestion leaving less opportunity for embargo. The relationships between the shipper and carrier is what we here at BlueGrace manage, therefore these propositions can help our business while helping other businesses in the same.

Is Buying a Franchise a Good Idea?

Buying a franchise

The thought of being your own boss is what most of us dream of, but is it possible? One of the best ways to start your own company is to buy a franchise. Starting your own business from the ground up can take a lot of sacrifice. It can take years before a profit is made if a profit is made at all; most businesses fail in the first two years. The economy is weak, but slowly making its way back. It’s time to get in on the ground floor and make an investment that will pay off in the decade to come. Buying a franchise offers safety nets that are crucial in today’s economy. If you are looking to buy a franchise, just remember to think R.I.C.H

R-RESEARCH

          In deciding to buy a franchise, the freedom to research the company is available. When doing research look for a few things like reviews on the business, success rates, competitors, location, and economic demand.

I-INSURANCE

          Not all but some companies will offer guarantee profit from insurance companies. After researching different franchise opportunities, make sure to look into the benefits each company offers.

C-CLIENT

          The best business incentive to buy a franchise is the built-in cliental, as opposed to building your own following. A franchise offers brand recognition with costumer loyalty that a business can only gain after time. The main responsibility as a franchise owner in regards to marketing is expansion, which is much more achievable than start-up.

H-HOURS

          Being the boss has its advantages and the best is setting the hours! Depending on the type of franchise, it is possible to not even leave the house. It is true, owning a business comes with a lot of demands and a lot of hours, but the beauty of a franchise is the establishment the company already has, so it’s up to the buyer to create their own schedule and keep it up.

So remember all you future business owners, think R.I.C.H!

 

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!

Manufacturing: Coming Back to America

One of the best trends I have seen in the U.S. logistics industry is the bounce back of U.S. manufacturing, albeit slow recovery. During the economic recession, the U.S. relied on outsourcing jobs and manufacturing to countries such as China and India. Although doing this helps U.S. businesses reduce their bottom line costs in the short term, does it actually hurt our country?

Manufacturing jobs in the U.S. on the rise.
Small and large businesses are beginning to bring jobs and manufacturing back home to the U.S. http://bit.ly/KQohUJ

Today, small and large businesses are slowly beginning to bring these jobs back home. U.S. manufacturers are taking it upon themselves to include that all important “Made in the U.S.A.” stamp back on their goods, but there have been questions posed about their supply chain. These companies bring in large loads of raw materials and then break them down into smaller quantities. Large loads are brought in via rail or full truckload and then when produced into smaller quantities they are shipped via less than truckload (LTL). As you can imagine, transportation spend is a large part of a manufacturer’s budget… and that’s why 3PLs are here to help! A reliable 3PL allows manufacturers to leverage their freight shipping and reduce their overall spend on transportation. Companies, such as BlueGrace® Logistics, also make sure they are shipping under their correct freight class to avoid possibilities of re-class and unexpected charges.

As for me, I hope to see and ship a lot of new products in the 4th quarter for the holidays… and it means more when they are “Made in the U.S.A” What are your thoughts on the direction of goods manufactured in the US? Are you also in the transportation industry and can offer your insight on this topic? Leave a comment below!

If you are interested in learning more about how BlueGrace Logistics can help your business leverage its freight shipping, contact an expert on our team today!

Dustin Snipes, Senior National Sales Manager – Inbound
Twitter: @dsnipesnole_bg

BlueGrace has your Truckloads covered like a Champ

BlueGrace has your Truckloads covered like a Champ
Now is the perfect time to ship full truckloads with BlueGrace® Logistics. As of July 18th, receive a $10 gift card to Fighterwarehouse for ANY shipment!

As we’re all aware, the ebb and flow of capacity, fluctuating demand and speed-to-market often poses unique challenges to shippers. A powerful way to combat this is by shipping full truckloads (TL).

Building complete loads not only promotes efficiency but supports our economy whether it’s thriving or tumultuous. By consolidating freight, you help cut your own cost because TL utilization is improved and you convert less-than-truckload shipments into less-expensive full truckloads. Why have two trucks half-full when you can have one carry the entire load?

Why ship full truckloads?

1. Faster transit times because there are no terminal stops along the route. Consolidation into full truckloads allows for direct delivery to the customer.
2. Lower costs because the price per pound drops significantly. Some companies have reduced their freight transportation costs by up to 35%!
3. Less propensity for damage claims due to decreased handling of your freight.
4. Increase and dedicated capacity for you within your core carrier bases. Choose from a shared carrier network that fits your distinct transportation needs.
5. Increased visibility into forecasting demand helps you plan ahead for more efficiently matched supply and demand.

Why use a 3PL to ship your TL?

Because full truckload shipping is generally more intricate, a 3PL’s involvement smooths out your supply chain management by considering the details of your shipment so you don’t have to. We relieve you from headaches caused by grappling over questions like:
-What is the size and shape of my freight? How will the packaging of this impact my shipping?
-What are the routes looking like where it’s being transported? Is there construction?
-How will the time of year affect my transportation? How do I plan around holidays?

Truckload logistics management is a very detailed process and utilizing powerhouses like BlueGrace® Logistics can help prepare you to make the optimal decision for your transportation needs. What this all translates into is greater volume in the system. The more volume, the better the opportunities to build full truckloads and deliver shipments more frequently.

You know the mighty punch that consolidation packs and what a 3PL can bring into the arena. Now that you know, the question becomes: why haven’t you started yet?

Now is the perfect time to ship full truckloads with BlueGrace® Logistics. As of July 18th, receive a $10 gift card to Fighterwarehouse for ANY shipment! Contact one our reliable freight experts to receive a free quote or start booking today!

BlueGrace® Logistics is a proud sponsor of Carlos Condit and many other MMA fighters.

Lesson for Heavy Weight Shippers

Overloaded Dry Van
This is a caution to heavy weight shippers! You cannot overload a trailer in the middle of the van.

Now this is something you don’t expect to see on your way home from work…

One of our team members captured this scene of a dry van that caved in, and as you can imagine – causing major delays during 5 o’clock rush hour on northbound I-75.

This is a caution to heavy weight shippers! You cannot overload a trailer in the middle of the van. Instead, the weight (under 45,000 lbs) must be evenly distributed throughout the trailer. Perhaps this shipment was best fit for a flatbed. Flatbeds have reinforced steel beams underneath that are designed to support heavy loads compared to a dry van.

For more information on flatbed versus dry van shipping or to book an LTL or truckload shipment with a top rated carrier contact us today.

Our team of logistics experts is happy to assist you – and fellow commuters will thank you!

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!

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.

 

#BGInvestigates: Is Rail Transport Right on Track for your Business?

 

Rail Transport | Rail Freight Shipping | Intermodal Transportation
When it comes to transporting your heavy load, have you looked into all transportation modes?

The Shipper’s Key to Railroad Freight is Planning Ahead of Time Based on your Business Model.

When it comes to transporting your heavy load, have you looked into all transportation modes? The U.S. rail system is one of the largest contributors to our economic well-being, providing an efficient long haul transportation alternative. In 2009, following a historic $26 billion railroad investment, Warren Buffett was quoted saying

“Our country’s prosperity depends on its having an efficient and well-maintained rail system.”

With increasing diesel fuel prices and rising carbon emissions – The planet can’t afford for you to ignore the benefits of rail freight shipping!

Suppose that your business has freight going from Tampa to Los Angeles, about 2,500 miles. While road may take 4 ½ transit days, rail would take approximately 10 days. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “That’s a big transit difference!” We agree – but how fast could YOU travel with 100 tons on your back?! Not to mention the difference in environmental impact. Did you know that rail is the most energy efficient way to move your goods on land? In fact, rail uses on average 4x less energy than truck, reducing carbon emissions by 75%! The point is… If your business can plan ahead, then you can utilize rail to transport your goods and significantly reduce your supply chain costs and carbon footprint. Sounds like a pretty good deal, huh?

This issue of #BGInvestigates identifies a few questions to help you identify if rail is the ideal mode of transportation for your business.

  • What type of goods can be transported by rail? Coal is the most important commodity carried by rail, followed by other products such as chemicals, grains, farm products, non metallic minerals, waste and scrap.
  • Approximately how many tons can a rail car handle? While a truckload can handle about 43,000 lbs., a rail car can handle 100-110 tons.
  • How do you receive a freight rate for rail? Contact one of our Freight Experts via email or phone (800-697-4477) so that s/he can identify the rail lane options and select the best route for your freight.  This is a customizable process and it’s important to know all of your transportation options.
  • Is booking railroad freight difficult? Not at all! After receiving a competitive price to transport your goods, you can fill a container when time allows and schedule a truck to pick up your freight from your business location. From there, the driver will take it to the rail yard where your freight will be loaded and sent off by railroad to its drop off destination.

So what do you say? Does rail seem like the right track for your business? Contact one of our Intermodal experts today to analyze the advantages and cost savings potential to move your goods via rail. As we continue to research new methods that will save you money and the environment while improving efficiencies, we’ll report them to you! Did you find this post helpful or have an idea the BG Investigates Team should look into? Don’t forget to mention it on Twitter (#BGInvestigates).

Have freight that’s ready to be shipped by rail? Share a picture!  Are you on Pinterest? Pin it!

Poll: How much do you know about LTL Shipping?

As part of BlueGrace Logistics’ mission to enhance our customers experience with freight shipping and logistics services, we just posted a poll on LinkedIn about freight shipping!

How much do you know about LTL shipping?
Select the appropriate answer that best fits your knowledge of LTL. Don’t worry – There’s no right or wrong answer!

 

-Samantha Hill, Community Manager
Twitter: SamHill_BG

#BGInvestigates: How Regulations Affect the Transportation Industry

The transportation industry is no exception when it comes to government regulations. In the coming year, many regulations will be enforcing drastic changes in the transportation industry. These changes will impact the bottom line of truck drivers, carriers, shippers, consignees and even consumers. As regulations increase, trucking companies are forced to increase shipping costs, in turn, driving the cost of products in the market to rise. BG Investigates points out why it’s important to be aware of new industry laws and regulations.

Many transportation regulations are highly controversial in regard to their costs and effectiveness. Specifically, the CSA 2010 law was passed in December of 2010 and remains a top concern. According to the FMCSA, a part of the US Department of Transportation, the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) initiative is a regulation that is working to further reduce commercial motor vehicle crashes, fatalities and injuries on our nation’s highways. The trucking industry (including common carriers) feel the impact of this regulation as drivers are taken off the road due to safety concerns. Although this helps to increase safety, the loss of truck drivers due to CSA regulations has caused driver and capacity shortages.

“We are really starting to see the impact (of CSA 2010) in the industry right now. Every day we are seeing carriers that are being rated down to conditional and last week we saw five carriers shut down by the DOT for unsafe ratings. Obviously that increases the capacity constraints we have in the market by reducing the amount of drivers on the road and causes an increase in rates,” says Chris Reeves, Director of Specialized Services.

The debate continues on many other government policies. The Hours of Service regulations published in December 2011 were enforced to control the amount of hours a driver can be in operation. The HOS rules cause changes in the current transit times for shipments, as drivers are not able to travel as long. There are severe penalties for both the driver and carrier for violations. Industry groups argue that these regulations should change before they officially go into effect July 1, 2013.

BG Investigates uncovered the following transportation industry regulations that all readers should be aware of for 2012 and beyond:

  • Stability Control Standards – Technology mandate controlling stability on heavy-duty tractors to preventing rollovers of trucks and trailers.
  • Mandatory Speed Limiters – Controlling the speed of trucks to prevent accidents.
  • Crashworthiness Standards – Standards, similar to automobiles, that help protect truck drivers involved in accidents
  • EOBR RegulationsElectronic on-board recorders tracking the time truck drivers are on the road.

The laws and regulations of the transportation industry are constantly changing. Whether you are a truck driver, carrier, shipper, consignee or consumer, you should consistently be informed to be compliant and understand the effects it may have on your business model.  BG Investigates will continue looking and reporting the status of new transportation laws and regulations that affect you, so keep an eye out for future articles. Contact one of our knowledgeable representatives at BlueGrace Logistics with any questions about industry regulations or call 800.MYSHIPPING.

– Ben Dundas, Sr. Marketing Analyst

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

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