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transportation

A Bright Future for Intelligent Logistics

The transportation and logistics industries are perhaps one of the most vital industries in the United States, if not the entire world. On average, trucks haul approximately 70 percent of all consumer goods across the country, and that number is only expected to grow as the global economy continues to grow and change. However, while it is the most vital of all industries, it has also remained the most stagnant, with very little about the industry changing over the past several decades.

The potential for these digital changes is immense, allowing companies to work smarter by lowering operation costs while boosting efficiency.

Yet, we’re beginning to see what can be described as an age of enlightenment for the transportation industry, a digital renaissance. Something in which logistics planners and trucking fleet owners alike are beginning to dive into. These changes are covering everything from ridesharing, “smart” logistics, and even automated vehicles. The potential for these digital changes is immense, allowing companies to work smarter by lowering operation costs while boosting efficiency. Even going so far as increase environmental sustainability as truckers, planners, and shippers all learn to connect on a broader level.

The Growing Web of Interconnection 

In short, the digital age is built on the concept that just about anything is possible, including a sort of omniscience that is vital to running a highly efficient supply chain.  

One of the biggest advantages of this digital age is how interconnected everything is. The Internet of Things (IoT) is providing more data and more accessibility to that data than ever before. New software systems are able to track where freight is during every stage of its transportation and the condition of it during its trip. 3PLs and other intermediaries are developing digital platforms that can connect a shipper to a carrier with a few clicks, rather than an exhaustive list of phone calls, emails, and faxes. Customs documents can be uploaded and transmitted to mobile devices,  less demurrage and detention fees when a paper document gets lost in translation. In short, the digital age is built on the concept that just about anything is possible, including a sort of omniscience that is vital to running a highly efficient supply chain.  

Building On the Infrastructure 

Digitization within the transportation industry also has another, less obvious benefit. It gives developing countries easier access to the global market. As these countries haven’t built up their logistics capabilities to that of the U.S. or the E.U. attempting to break ground on this front is often both cost and time prohibitive. Having access to a digital platform allows them to “leapfrog” directly into digital and mobile solutions for logistics.  

“According to the All India Motor Transport Congress, there are close to 12 million trucks in India. The road freight volume in India is forecast to be 2,211.24 billion freight tonne-kilometer, growing at 4.7 percent,” according to a recent article from YourStory.com 

Market research from Novonous, ‘Logistics Market in India 2015-2020’ shows that India is a prime example of a country that can benefit from new, digitized logistics platforms. The report shows that the logistics sector for India approximately $300 billion, and expected to grow by 12.17 percent by 2020. Factor in that 90 percent of trucks in India are operated by single truck owners, and you can see the potential for connectivity and digital platforms.  

The Growth of E-commerce and Digitization 

E-commerce, of course, is at the heart of much of this digital growth as many consumers begin to veer towards a digital shopping cart, rather than brick and mortar stores. As E-commerce companies such as Amazon, Alibaba, and Flipkart begin to grow and attract more customers, the potential for higher logistics costs also increase. As it stands, India spends about 13 percent of its total GDP on logistics, versus China at 18 percent and the U.S at 8.5 percent. Even a drop of 4 percent in logistics spending could save India upwards of $50 billion.   

The visibility and scalability of a digital network will undoubtedly be vital for the growth of the global economy.

The visibility and scalability of a digital network will undoubtedly be vital for the growth of the global economy. Not only does it help to level the playing field for new players making the market more accessible, but it also helps veterans and legacy companies to operate more efficiently.  

Real-time visibility solutions can help tackle delays, productivity issues, accidents, diversion, theft, and damage.

“Mobile operators are uniquely poised to offer regional and global connectivity solutions for the logistics sector. These real-time visibility solutions can help tackle delays, productivity issues, accidents, diversion, theft, and damage,” says the Yourstory Team.   

“Governments can also improve the quality of logistics via measures like budgetary outlays, foreign direct investment regulations, clarity in classification of logistics players, tax structures, and requirements for open data sharing. This covers truck fleets and the warehousing sector,” they added.  

The logistics sector is heading towards a new digital era, that much is certain. Tech startups, along with forward-thinking incumbents, are bringing innovations and insights into the field and is shaking up the old ways of doing things. As this new era grows in years, it’s likely that we’ll be seeing the logistics and transportation industry in a wholly different light.  

Offering Intelligent Logistics To All Customers 

BlueGrace Logistics offers complete, customized transportation management solutions that provide clients with the bandwidth to create transparency, operate efficiently, and drive direct cost reductions. For more information on how we can help take your hard to understand and complicated data and turn it into easy to read and well calculated decisions data, feel free to contact us using the form below:

Change Is Coming For The Trucking Industry

Disruptive technologies will often alter the form and function of an industry, at least to some degree. The changes brought about by these new disruptions are subtle, making the sector more efficient (production is a good example of this) but change little else. The transportation industry, however, is standing at the precipice of total revolution. These new, disruptive advancements won’t affect it in small ways, but rather change it altogether, making the industry something completely different from what we’ve seen over the past several decades.   

There are some big questions to answer when contemplating how these new developments will alter and impact the industry.

There are some big questions to answer when contemplating how these new developments will alter and impact the industry. IHS Markit’s latest study “Reinventing the Truck” is taking a closer look at how new power-train and autonomous trucking will affect logistics, trucking, and the energy industry.  

New Changes for the Trucking Industry  

Of these new changes, the first one to consider is that we’re beginning to see new patterns of both distribution and consumption across consumer markets. Typically speaking, a growth in trade reflects economic activity, but that relationship might change due to changes in manufacturing and distribution practices. 3D printing, for example, means that certain consumer goods could be manufactured on site, rather than being transported from a manufacturing facility and then being hauled to a DC before reaching its final destination. Local production of consumer goods could reduce supply chains and lower demand for freight carriers, negating shipping costs entirely in some instances.  

New Technology in the Industry 

Technology will also be a driving factor. According to Markit’s study, there are three key areas in the industry that will be impacted. The first of these is through increased data access. As the IoT and expanded sensor banks allow logistics companies to gain access to more data throughout the supply chain, networks and best practices will see optimization and increased efficiency.   

Electric vehicles are becoming more sophisticated and developing a longer delivery range, making them ideal for urban settings.

Other advancements to be aware of will change fuel consumption patterns throughout the industry. Electric vehicles are becoming more sophisticated and developing a longer delivery range, making them ideal for urban settings. As electric drive trains are quieter, hours of operation can be extended, allowing carriers to operate throughout the night when traffic is reduced, which will change deployment patterns as well as fuel consumption.  

The Role of Automation 

Increased levels of automation within the industry itself will also play a large role in the transformation of the transportation industry. Warehouses are employing more robots for picking and packing of orders. Automated loading and unloading systems can reduce truck detention times, allowing a driver to get back on the road quicker.

Automation will greatly reduce costs by increasing efficiency which will be enhanced as connectivity and communication levels increase.  

Self-driving vehicles are also on the horizon which will allow for a greater traveling distance and might be enticing for new, younger drivers, as a reason to get behind the wheel. Automation will greatly reduce costs by increasing efficiency which will be enhanced as connectivity and communication levels increase.  

New Regulations will Change the Supply Chain 

Lastly, there is the change in trucking regulation to consider, which will have the most immediate impact on the industry. These new regulations are taking place on a local, state, and national level. These policies have a wide range of goals, anywhere from reducing CO2 emissions and improving (reducing) fuel consumption, to addressing longstanding labor issues. Regardless of their intention, these new regulations all share one factor in common, the will to alter the established patterns and practices of the trucking industry. Germany, for example, has allowed individual cities to ban diesel trucks. That alone will significantly change the transportation industry, bringing a new level of complexity for fleet operators that work in and around urban areas as it can vary from city to city.  

Change to Affect More than Just Transportation 

Considering that these changes have a far-reaching impact, not just on the transportation industry, the Markit study also looked at how other industries will be affected. With supply chains being shortened or even negated in some instances as well as new regulations and standards being put into effect, oil refineries and the petrochemical industry will begin to see a diminished demand from their biggest customer. 

Given that the transportation industry plays a considerable role in the global economy, many industries will be affected and will undergo their own set of changes in order to keep pace.  

In short, these new changes will push our understanding of disruptive technologies to a new level as the transportation industry will begin to undergo a metamorphosis. Given that the transportation industry plays a considerable role in the global economy, many industries will be affected and will undergo their own set of changes in order to keep pace.  

Ready for the Change? 

At BlueGrace, we work with you every step of the way. We’re here to help you understand your current freight issues and make sure your supply chain is ready for any changes in the industry without ever missing a beat. For more information on how we can help you simplify your supply chain and achieve your goals without labor or technology investments, contact us today using the form below: 

Attracting the Next Generation of Truckers

As time changes, the views and opinions of the generations that follow will also change. As the baby boomers are beginning to approach the golden age of retirement, new generations are starting to step up to the plate. This is creating a shakeup for the global economy as a whole. We’re seeing a change in aspirations as well as life goals in those that are entering the workforce. For some industries, it has created a renaissance of new ideas, innovations, leaders, and visionaries.

Simply put, the U.S trucking industry is facing a driver shortage of which it has never seen before.

Other sectors, like the trucking industry, might have a harder time attracting new prospects. Simply put, the U.S trucking industry is facing a driver shortage of which it has never seen before. As manufacturing and retail sales continue to increase, shippers and carriers alike are scrambling to find the capacity to keep freight moving, resulting in many shipments being up-charged or left behind. “A 2017 report by the American Trucking Association noted that the industry needs to hire almost 900,000 more drivers to meet rising demand, while the latest jobs report noted that 185,000 jobs have been added over the past four months alone,” according to a recent article from MSNBC 

 “The shipping infrastructure is facing a tight capacity crunch this year, and the small to mid-sized business shipper will feel the upward pressure in raised rates due to the lack of drivers and trucks available,” said Tim Story, EVP of freight operations at Unishippers. “The new mandate could result in a 4-8 percent loss in capacity (available trucks on the road).” 

To make matters worse, the average age of truck drivers on the road today is 55, which means many will be considering retirement in the near future. As qualified drivers begin to leave the field, there is a concern that there won’t be enough new drivers to replace them. In order to attract fresh blood and new talent for the industry, trucking companies are focusing their efforts on the newest generation of up and coming young adults: the self-oriented Millennials, who are in their twenties and thirties.  

Trucking is a Hard Sell  

While there is plenty of talent to choose from in the millennial pool, trucking is a hard sell when it comes to attracting new drivers. Truck driving doesn’t necessarily carry the glamorous reputation that some industries might have. Long hours and time spent away from home seem to be a deterrent for many who would consider getting behind the wheel.

While some trucking companies are willing to foot the bill for the education, that’s not a universal standard – at least not yet.  

Additionally, there’s the need for a CDL commercial driver’s license which is required to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 or more pounds. It takes both time and money to obtain. While some trucking companies are willing to foot the bill for the education, that’s not a universal standard – at least not yet.  

With that being said, it’s still a considerable commitment for someone fresh out of school who is trying to decide what to do with their life. Younger drivers will also be facing an age barrier as well as you need to be 21 and over to be able to cross state lines. Even if trucking companies were able to recruit younger drivers, there’s still going to be a time restraint before a young aspirant can become a full-fledged trucker.  That timing can make a big difference too. A millennial fresh out of high school isn’t able to enter into the field, which means by the time they can they’ve likely moved on to a different career field. Recruitment is also proving to be a challenge for the trucking industry as well.

Until a recruitment solution is identified, it will continue to be a problem.

While many trucking companies are starting to pay for ad space on social media sites in an attempt to find new drivers, the cost vs. yield is out of balance. “Carriers are having to spend more money on advertising to get people to apply, but only getting one to two drivers out of each 100 applications they receive,” said Story. “Between the training required, predominantly male-dominated field, age hurdles and more, carriers are having to pay drivers higher rates that will continue to increase. Right now, there aren’t enough qualified drivers in the applicant pool to satisfy the needs of the industry. Until a recruitment solution is identified, it will continue to be a problem.”  

Changing the Demographic  

Another issue for the trucking industry is that it is predominately male. According to Ellen Voie the president and CEO of the Women In Trucking (WIT) Association, only about seven percent of the entire trucking fleet in the U.S is made up of women. While this made sense for the physical requirements necessary twenty years ago, that’s no longer the case. “There’s very little physical exertion anymore,” says Voie “Even the hood releases and the dollies are hydraulic. You just push a button. WIT’s mission is to work with truck manufacturers and trucking companies alike to promote women in the industry and to help reduce the obstacles faced by women in the trucking industry. By making the industry more accessible for women, it will help to ease the driver shortage by increasing the available pool of drivers to get behind the wheel.   

Autonomous Trucks Will be Good for the Industry  

Conventional wisdom believes that automated trucking will simply remove the need for human drivers, but that isn’t the case, or at least it won’t be for quite some time. However, the trucking industry does stand to gain from the addition of autonomous trucking.

While Millennials might hold the keys to the future, reaching out to them will be the challenge.  

Autonomous trucks will still need a human driver to navigate urban settings as well as handling the more intricate aspects of entering and exiting highways. The technological aspect alone can help to attract younger drivers, while the added safety features might make the field more accessible to younger drivers and women alike while reducing the amount of training necessary to get them on the road. In any event, the trucking industry has its work cut out for it, especially as the driver shortage problem continues to worsen. While Millennials might hold the keys to the future, reaching out to them will be the challenge.  

Ready to Launch A Career in the Logistics Industry?

BlueGrace partners with the industry’s best in class LTL, Truckload and Expedited carriers. If you are ready to learn the in’s and out’s of the transportation industry, CLICK HERE to launch your logistics career and see all the positions available throughout the country at BlueGrace. We are constantly awarded a best place to work and love to see our employees succeed!

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: 

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

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

You’ve Got Choices 

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

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

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

Stay in Control 

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

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

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

Built to Scale 

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

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

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

Working with a 3PL like BlueGrace

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

ELDs Are Coming Fast! Some Facts & Predictions – Infographic

Countdown to the ELD Mandate – December 16th 2017

It is time to plan for the ELD Mandate as a freight shipper, if you haven’t already. When the electronic logging device mandate takes place, many shippers will be caught off guard with shipments taking longer than expected due to the restrictions put in place on drivers.

We thought it would be beneficial to show some fast facts and predictions about ELDs that we originally published in 2016. What do you think about the new requirements? Are you ready? If you have any questions feel free to contact your BlueGrace Representative today.

Click the image below for a larger version or download the PDF version here and feel free to share.

A Brief Explanation Of Freight Classing For Engines

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

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

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

Questions you should ask include:

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

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

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

How is your 3PL delivering on their proposed solutions?

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“If you sell on price, you lose on price.” is typically a line that is used inside the walls of BlueGrace. Price is a very important factor in transportation in this trillion dollar industry where there is billions of dollars of waste. Inefficient supply chain consultation, technology, and pricing keeps companies from not growing as fast as they should, and keeps business top line revenue down. In our recent blog “Keep the main thing, the main thing” we told you how keeping your focus on your business should be the most important thing and to leave transportation to the experts. We have seen some lacking proposals from competitors in our space. We want to give you a few pointers in what to look for in a transportation management proposal.

Does the proposal focus on your needs?

In the lead up to this proposal there should be needs you current do not have such as reporting, business intelligence, claims management, auditing, GRI management, as well as others. If these items or others business issues were brought up in the initial talks then they should be on the proposal.

Are solutions proposed explained in how they will be executed?

Companies can say they can do anything and numbers can be bent to make sense. The entity that needs to understand how these numbers and solutions proposed made the proposal page are the business owners and stake holders. Make sure you have a clear understanding of how everything is supposed to take place and when. This takes us to our next suggestion.

Is there a timeline?

9 times out of 10 changing transportation providers is not easy. Large clients have business systems and processes in place. It is up to the 3pl to figure out how to fit those systems to make transportation a seamless business function, rather than a burden. When the proposal is delivered there should be a timeline of when and what happens. Is there an integration schedule? When are the 3pl implementation representatives or IT employees supposed to be on site at your location? When is the “go-live” date? These are a few of the very important items to make sure a 3pl can deliver on a proposed solution.

The focus should be on the business

These are a few very important factors in grading a transportation proposal. The focus should be on the business and the business should understand everything that is going to happen and how the 3pl got there. BlueGrace prides itself on delivering proposals and making them happen. Reach out today to learn how we can become a supply chain partner today.

 

El Nino and the impact on US Transportation

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El Nino will have a major effect on US ground transportation and it looks to be a positive one. Temperatures are forecast to be warmer in the Midwest and Northeast. These regions have been absolutely rocked the past two Winters by Winter snow storms lasting into March. Chicago is largely considered to be the freight capitol of the United States and New Jersey has some of the highest traffic ports on the East Coast. The country may see more rain as opposed to snow. Rain does not have a large effect on ground transportation as it does not paralyze interstate systems and local roads like snow can. Here is a pattern of what types of weather this El Nino can bring:

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The Western region of the country desperately needs rain and could cause flooding with a major influx of rain this winter season. The Weather Channel has an in depth article about the effects and patterns of an El Nino weather cycle.

5th Annual Cats vs. Dogs Contest

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


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

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

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

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

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

Business Boondoggle: Multiple Business Units with Unaligned Transportation Strategy.

BlueGrace-ThinkOutsideTheBox

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

What are you wasting by not auditing your freight invoices?

At BlueGrace we make it our business to audit every invoice before it gets billed. To maximize the value our services provide, we research all invoice discrepancies and identify as either customer, carrier, or internal error.

If it is determined that the carrier has billed us in error, we dispute directly with them and a corrected invoice before we billing our customers. In the event it was caused by an internal error, we correct the error and adjust the invoice to the quoted price before the customer receives the bill., we will send that invoice at your quoted price. When there is a customer error, we inform you of the carrier findings, justification and educate you on how to avoid costly mistakes in the future. Should you dispute the findings, we provide you the opportunity to dispute with the proper paperwork, pictures, etc. and advocate on your behalf.

Failure to audit your invoices and hold your carrier’s accountable can result in thousands of dollars of annual waste. Here’s a recent, real life example:

If you were to ship, for example, 20 LTL shipments per a week, it could take 5 minutes each shipment to audit. The median salary in the United States is $33k a year. This means by BlueGrace professional auditing your shipments and letting you run your business we save you $26.45 a week in actual money as well as an hour and forty minutes in time. We provide this auditing service as an added service to our customers at no added charge. We can also provide data analysis of your current provider transportation costs to either validate or advise on if you are getting the most competitive rates possible. We also report on these audit savings in quarterly business reviews as you can see in the slide below:

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To learn more about our services email contactus@mybluegrace.com or call 800-697-4477 today

BlueGrace Logistics Sponsored Chael Sonnen at UFC Fight Night 26

At the main event of UFC Fox Sports 1 on August 17, 2013, Chael Sonnen surprised the crowd with an explosive performance over former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Sonnen was a slight underdog entering the fight, but his

BlueGrace Logistics sponsored Chael Sonnen during his big night as he tapped out Shogun in the first round with a guillotine choke in a dominant, one-sided performance. The loss was obviously devastating for Shogun, but Sonnen leaves the fight with multiple fight options.

Another major highlight from the fight, was when Sonnen called out “The Axe Murderer” for a fight during the post-fight recap with Joe Rogan by stating “Wanderlei Silva, six feet tall and 205 pounds, boy, until I met you, I didn’t know they could stack crap that high,” and ended it with “Wanderlei Silva, three months, you and the bad guy.”

BlueGrace is very excited for Chael Sonnen on his win and looks forward to his next fight, probably against Wanderlei Silva.   BlueGrace Logistics was a proud, visible sponsor and can be seen in many of the pictures from the fight! Check out some of the awesome pictures we have posted from the fight on the BlueGrace Logistics Facebook page.

 

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The Real Meaning of a Shoulder Ride

As a father to two little girls I have found myself as the proverbial donkey for the last 10 years. It’s a rare occurrence if I’m involved in any sort of walking with my girls, whether it is 20 feet or a mile, my shoulders aren’t carrying one of them. A few months ago I had pulled something in my neck rendering my shoulder ride services useless for a few days. During that time I learned just how lucky I was to be able to give shoulder-rides, albeit amidst the constant whine of newly mobile princesses. I pondered what having the privilege actually meant and listed below are some of what came to mind.

If you are giving a shoulder ride:

  1. You’re probably healthy, strong
  2. You’re carrying someone that loves you dearly
  3. You’re carrying someone that you love dearly
  4. There’s a good chance the rider is your child, in which case you are exponentially blessed for the good fortune of being able to have a child
  5. You’re likely outside or cruising a mall, breathing fresh air
  6. It’s likely you’re off work, probably headed somewhere you really want to be
  7. You almost certainly don’t have a sunburn (not earth shattering but I LOATH sunburns)
  8. You feel safe to walk openly with a small child in public areas; this is not something the entire world enjoys. If you’re lucky enough to be a US citizen then add to your blessings
  9. You’re making someone so very happy and without costing a cent
  10. If you’re not lifting a child, you’re likely lifting a teammate or friend in celebration, again, you are likely healthy and strong.
  11. You like serving others and have a kind heart, which is a true gift

This list could continue for miles but the point is you are amongst the utmost blessed should you find you’re giving a shoulder ride. Healthy, loving, loved, safe, happy, serving, and grateful are all appropriate words for those lucky enough to be carrying another. You are the real 1%, the most fortunate of all in these circumstances.

There is a strong symbolism of a shoulder ride in its power to assist another. Shoulder rides can carry someone else in time of need or simply take a little pressure off someone’s feet for a while. Maybe you can’t lift someone because you’re not near them in distance, maybe you are across the world from them. But chances are, you can lift almost anyone if you have the desire to do so.

There is a potential in all of us to give to others, to support them, and to lift them.

In many of life’s circumstances I find that it’s either necessary or simply a lot of fun if you’re carrying someone, literally or figuratively. As for me, I healed fast that week and have had an added zest for placing my heart on top of my shoulders every chance I get.

P.S.

Sometimes you get to be the rider…

 Man on the shoulders of another man

 -Bobby Harris

 President & CEO

Rising Price of Oil: Effects on Daily Purchases and Transportation

Oil prices are going up in 2012! If you are in the trucking industry or just a consumer, when oil prices go up … YOU are affected. Oil prices not only effect the price of gasoline that we put in our car every day or diesel in a truck (which is more expensive) but also the cost of our food, packaging of products and many other items that we use daily. Remember, the cost of a barrel of crude oil is based on what speculators think will happen to the production and delivery of the barrels of oil around the world. Recently Iran made a statement that they will close the Strait of Hormuz, which is a major waterway for theStrait of Hormuz, Iran transportation of oil from the Middle East. The reason for the statement is not important pertaining to this blog, but the impact to the price of oil would be huge. The NY Times reported that if the Strait of Hormuz was closed, the price of oil could rise as much as 50% or more within days (which we are already beginning to experience).

Today the average cost per gallon of gas is $3.30 and for diesel is $3.78 (eia). Just sit back and imagine if the cost of these two items doubled within 2 days. Let’s do some quick math, to personally fill my car the cost would go from $60 to $118. To fill a truck that can carry 400 gallons of diesel would go from $1,512 to $3,024. For shippers, the fuel cost that you would pay for a shipment from Los Angeles, CA to Boston, MA would go from an estimated $1,581 to $3,849 just for the cost of fuel. That does not count the line haul cost. If the cost of transportation for our products goes up, so do the costs at stores where we buy our goods. Food, paper towels, diapers, apparel, paper for the copier, etc… will go up.

So, if you ever wonder why oil prices are such a big issue in this country or why the USA spends so much time in the Middle East, just look at the impact it has on your personal budget and transportation services. Look at the impact on one of your shipments if oil prices should double.

-Chris Reeves, Director of Specialized Services
Twitter: @BGTruckload