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Connectivity Is Among The Keys To Logistics Of Tomorrow

Posted by Land Link on Dec 12, 2018 3:56:51 PM

Our economies and our lives depend on the efficient movement of goods; a movement that is underpinned by complex transport and logistics chains. But, while delivering goods from producer to end user, transport and logistics systems are under increasing pressure to deliver greater efficiency, more sustainability, and improved cost-effectiveness. Connectivity and IOT ( The Internet of Things ) will be the key components to a competitive edge in the Logistics of tomorrow. The IOT, as you may recall from previous blogs, represents basically any piece of machinery involved in a supply chain. Implementing IOT technology will allow 3pls the ability to communicate directly with the hardware involved in the production and retrieve the necessary data directly rather than deal with personnel.

With a connected network, this type of data can be seamlessly retrieved by 3pls and disseminated to suppliers and providers. It is worthy to note that the decimation will likely be protected by blockchain technology for enhanced privacy and protection. Transport and logistics are facing the same challenges as other sectors – the need to increase efficiency, improve sustainability and lower costs. For transport and logistics, however, this is further compounded by the need to offer a better customer service in the face of growing customer expectations, and to ensure compliance with ever more stringent regulations. The improved connectivity that the project will deliver will enable the scalable, trusted and secure exchange of information. This, in turn, will improve the overall competitiveness of goods transport in the supply chain and make it more environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. Improved connectivity will also support cooperative ITS solutions, which will also improve logistics operations by generating real-time traffic information, allowing better tracking and tracing of goods. The ability to connect with machines globally and the IOT infrastructure in place to globally communicate pertinent logistics data to and from suppliers and providers, securely, will separate the players from the also-rans.

IoT, Smart Roads, And Predictive Analytics

Real-time monitoring of trucks, vehicles, and goods in transit via the IoT has been around, says Timothy Leonard, executive vice president of technology for TMW Systems, and is only getting more capable as the number and sophistication of sensors and IoT infrastructure improves.

According to Leonard, formerly a technology executive with General Motors, as sensors on trucks and trailers are becoming more numerous, they’re getting smarter and more capable of monitoring different conditions. Additionally, governments in places such as Ohio with its Smart Mobility Corridor program are embedding fiber optic cable and sensors right into roads to create “smart roads” that can help pinpoint congestion or weather trends. As a result, there will be a richer data stream to draw on for predictive analytics. The onus will be on vendors to develop predictive analytics solutions that are adept at helping with specific transportation decisions. “With the advent of smart road networks and infrastructure, and smarter sensors in trucks, the evolution of what we can do is just getting better and faster for us,” adds Leonard.

Mobile robotics change DCs

Digital supply chain management isn’t all about the IoT and visibility into goods in transit—it will also involve mobile robotics at the DC level to reduce labor requirements and help DCs keep pace with e-commerce growth, says Dwight Klappich, a research vice president with Gartner.

“I believe we are going to see very rapid evolution toward the use of what Gartner calls smart automated guided vehicles, that are also known as autonomous mobile robots, within DCs,” says Klappich. “They’re going to have a dramatic effect on how you can operate a warehouse, and how you design and build warehouses.”

Mobile robotics, contends Klappich, are more flexible than traditional automated materials handling systems that require extensive fixed infrastructure. Mobile robotics/smart AGVs that can carry or pull inventory to workstations—or function as smart, driverless lift trucks—would alleviate the labor needs at the DC level and allow for DC automation that’s quicker to install and reconfigure.

“There has always been this tradeoff with traditional automation in that while it can lower operating costs over the long term, it tends to be costly to acquire and involves a long time to install, implement or change,” says Klappich. “Where we are at now is that smart AGVs/robotics are beginning to break that traditional tradeoffs between efficiency and agility, and that situation is only going to get better as robotics improve and industry gains experience with them.”

Blockchain Technology In The Supply Chain

The blockchain is a distributed database that holds records of digital data or events in a way that makes them tamper-resistant. While many users may access, inspect, or add to the data, they can’t change or delete it. The original information stays put, leaving a permanent and public information trail, or chain, of transactions

If blockchain technology allows us to more securely and transparently track all types of transactions, imagine the possibilities it presents across the supply chain.

Every time a product changes hands, the transaction could be documented, creating a permanent history of a product, from manufacture to sale. This could dramatically reduce time delays, added costs, and human error that plague transactions today.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Logistics News

Trump Tariffs May Be The Catalyst For A Stock Correction

Posted by Land Link on Dec 5, 2018 5:06:30 PM

Economists differ on how much blame the Smoot-Hawley tariffs deserve for the Great Depression. They also disagree on how much credit President Franklin Roosevelt deserves for the Reciprocal Tariff Act, which put the U.S. on a path to lower tariffs. One thing appears certain. The potential economic impact of tariffs causes uncertainty on Wall Street. The stock market lost 800 points on Tuesday this week. Trump claims his tariffs will level the playing field. He may be proven right in the long term but there may be a severe short-term price to be paid.

The Trump administration continues to escalate a trade war between the world’s two largest economies, moving ahead with tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods and provoking an immediate response from Beijing. Additional tariffs which may exceed $200 million. The shipping community has been on edge about the impact the tariffs may have on the logistics market since the tariffs were proposed. Before we examine the potential fallout lets outline precisely what industries will be affected.
In January 2018, Trump imposed tariffs on solar panels and washing machines, and later this year, he imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum. Beginning on June 1, 2018, the Trump administration imposed a 25% tariff on imports of steel, and a 10% tariff on aluminum, on the European Union, Canada, and Mexico. The tariffs angered U.S. allies, who planned retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods and heightened chances of a trade war. China said that it would retaliate for the tariffs imposed on $50 billion of Chinese goods that come into effect on July 6. India is also planning to hit back to recoup trade penalties of $241 million on $1.2 billion worth of Indian steel and aluminum. Other countries, such as Australia, are concerned with the consequences of a trade war.

Industries Most Affected

For American companies which manufacture metals, the tariffs are good news. But businesses that consume steel and aluminum, like automakers and beverage producers, the tariffs will likely mean higher prices. Domestic automakers will experience significant increases in raw materials in auto production and aftermarket parts. Beverage and food manufacturers will also see price increases in aluminum and metal can material. Just about any other manufacturer that incorporates metal in the production of their products like Caterpillar, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin will be facing higher raw material costs. For a full list of the products and tariffs, click here. As we all know by now, these costs will translate to higher retail prices for cars, beverages and airline tickets.

Managing the Coming Challenges

Importers will have to plan for how these tariffs may affect their product mix. These and other trade policy shifts are disruptive to global supply chains, and the businesses and consumers depend on them. Regulatory modifications require companies to be keyed into new or altered trade sanctions, export license requirements, customs documentation, tax and duty codes, and stacks of legal requirements.
Companies engaged in global trade must manage a tremendous amount of information to establish and maintain compliance with regulations. This information, also referred to as trade content, ranges from the harmonized tariff schedules for product classification, to the duty rates needed to calculate landed cost, to the controls that determine what is required for a transaction to be legally completed. To efficiently import or export goods, shippers need fast access to data for all the countries where they trade.
Unfortunately, collecting, cleansing, and publishing trade content is a complicated task; which becomes even more challenging when considering the number of countries, number of government agencies, differences in trade regimes, and the ever-changing trade position of each country in the supply chain.

West Coast Warehouses Are Bulging

Oakland convened the quarterly meeting of its “Efficiency Task Force” last month. In their recent evaluation of trade dynamics, the majority of these members maintain that cargo volume is spiking right now but could drop by January.

Here were the trends noted by Task Force members assembled in Oakland:

Warehouses are filling up as U.S. retailers import merchandise from Asia.

Shipping lines have added more than 30 extra voyages to regularly scheduled Transpacific services to transport larger container volumes.

Ports up and down the West Coast have reported unprecedented cargo volume growth since mid-summer. West coast importers seem to be stocking up. Now is the time for contingency planning for just how the tariffs may affect your organization.

Many companies lack the personnel and expertise to monitor trade compliance and manage international supply chains. Perhaps now, more than ever is the time to consult a qualified Logistics provider like Land Link Traffic Solutions. Our experts can ensure an uninterrupted supply chain during the trade tariff storm ahead. Contact us today to discuss your needs @ www.Land-Link.com.

Author
Michael Gaughan
Technology Officer
Land Link Traffic Systems

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Topics: Logistics News

Update: Automation in the Supply Chain

Posted by Land Link on Nov 29, 2018 9:18:34 AM

We have long anticipated the introduction of robotics into the supply chain. We have predicted the potential of such technology to help businesses keep pace with distribution challenges and consumer demand for convenience and variety. However, while robotics technology has now arrived in many sectors of life, it is yet to truly revolutionize the logistics environment.

You might expect these updates to come quarterly or perhaps more spread out. The rate of technological advancements in the supply chain industry is coming fast having profoundly far-reaching results. These supply chain evolutions have a significant effect on the Gross National Product, which is an estimate of total value of all the final products and services turned out in a given period by the means of production owned by a country's residents. The national and regional manufacturing statistics are also affected by the efficiency within which supply chains operate. Finally, supply chain technology plays a significant role in national and international military operation. The next time you're concerned about your next Amazon shipment consider these, largely unconsidered, daily challenges by supply chain professionals.

Driver-less Trucks

While today’s trucks generally operate only up to eight or nine hours a day because drivers are required to rest, automation has the possibility to double or triple productivity by having the wheels rolling nearly around the clock without an active driver needed at all times.

Many analysts project that trucks with empty cabs and a computer at the wheel will travel on U.S. highways in as little as two years with no escort or safety driver in sight now that the Trump administration has signaled its willingness to let tractor-trailers to become truly driver-less. The U.S. Department of Transportation last month announced that it will "no longer assume" that the driver of a commercial truck is human, and the agency will even adopt the definitions of driver and operator to recognize that such terms do not refer exclusively to a human, but may, in fact, include an automated system. The release of the new guidelines will almost certainly accelerate the testing process and ramp up the competition between companies that have logged tens of thousands of miles in testing to prepare truly driver-less trucks for the open road. With the legislation last month, the Department of Transportation sent a strong signal that it plans to take a hands-off approach to regulate driverless trucks; one the agency also indicated it plans to make official through a formal rule-making process that will almost certainly pre-empt any state measures, such as those in California that prohibit driver-less trucks altogether. The Trump administration has made it very clear that when it comes to commerce in this country the attitude is "Laissez Faire"; a Latin phrase to suggest that issues of commerce be decided by those it affects. That seems to be the perceived interstate and international logistics environment; that there is a political commitment from U.S. DOT to help facilitate interstate commercial trucking and that the agency will be able to pre-empt state laws when necessary. There is, understandably, concern from the public and environmental and safety advocates regarding the seemingly unimpeded progress of driver-less trucks. I'm not sure I want 80,000 # of the truck behind me doing 80 MPH with no one at the wheel. The acceptance will come but it will be slow and undoubtedly at a financial and personal cost.

Automation and Robotics in the Warehouse

It seems clear that it is not a matter of “if” but “when” robots will be working in our parcel sorting hubs, distribution centers, and delivery vans. With an improved price/performance ratio, the adoption of robotic solutions is likely to intensify over the next five years. The business leaders of the future need to understand this technology, look on it as an opportunity rather than a threat, and start planning for the day when it provides a viable solution to ever-growing pressures on the supply chain. Having a strong understanding and appreciation of computer programming, I have argued that robotic and automation applications have a significant benefit to not only the supply chain process but any industry that demonstrates the need for personnel to execute basic and repetitive operations. These tasks are perfectly suited for robots. And with the introduction of Artificial Intelligence, the robots can measurably improve upon their performance over time. They learn the task and are programmed to do it faster once the steps in the task have been mastered...but not before. AI concentrates on 100% accuracy before increasing the speed of operations. I've tried to share this philosophy with my golfing partners who like to play from the blue tees without ever shooting par from the white tees.

What to Expect

Looking ahead, supply chain leaders should prepare their processes and infrastructure to embrace new technology and its ability to harness more data than ever before. While we have seen great progress in this area, the development of regulatory framework around robotics in the workplace and in ‘public’ spaces, rather than behind the scenes, will be the main factor to determine how quickly and to what degree robots and automation are incorporated into logistics.

The successful businesses of the future will be those which are able to adapt to the accelerated change in sourcing, production, and distribution that we are seeing today, and are agile and flexible enough to take advantage of new technologies. To ensure your company is in the race and not on the porch contact us today for a no-obligation review of your current Supply Chain protocols.

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Topics: Big Data, Technology

Holiday Cargo Theft Precautions

Posted by Land Link on Nov 21, 2018 1:01:47 PM

According to FreightWatch International, the risk of cargo theft incidents is much higher during the holiday season, and the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend should demand additional supply chain security measures for retailers looking to protect their precious holiday merchandise.

"Organized cargo theft rings are always active and recognize that holiday weekends can lead to shipments being unattended for prolonged periods of time," the firm noted. Since 2010, the transportation industry has experienced over three cargo theft incidents per day during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, an increase of 27% over the annual average of 2.4 thefts per non-holiday day during that time period, according to the report. During this elevated threat period, the theft of electronic products, clothing, and shoes typically increase as cargo theft targets, and Home & Garden products supplant Food & Drinks as the products most stolen as part of cargo theft incidents over the holidays. Texas has experienced the highest amount of theft during that period. Data shows 59 percent of all thefts occurred in Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, and New Jersey. Thefts increased from Monday of Thanksgiving week before spiking on Wednesday, then decreasing to average levels of theft.

Steps Shippers Can Take to Protect Against Cargo Theft Over the Holiday

Thieves ramp up activity over long weekends knowing not only lots of cargo will sit idle for several days, but also the value of that cargo increases during the high-demand holiday season.

To combat the increased threat during the holiday shipping season, there are important steps to be taken by all parties in the supply chain.

* Be Aware of Hours of Operation. It is important for logistics and security professionals to confirm holiday hours of operation with shipping partners to mitigate any shipping delays. This will help to avoid unattended or parked freight

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The Digital Supply Chain Meets The Digital WMS

Posted by Land Link on Nov 14, 2018 4:02:38 PM

Supply chain operation management has always been a challenge. Managers have always been under pressure to control costs and accurately fill orders. But in recent years, rising customer expectations around accurate, rapid, e-commerce fulfillment have increased the speed and complexity of order fulfillment to a level that would have been unrecognizable a decade or two ago. In the past a slightly disjointed supply chain got the job done. Transportation could be planned for full pallets and truckloads, distribution centers could process work at a predictable pace to meet brick and mortar replenishment needs, and DC facility automation was less intensive and less prone to bottlenecks. As long as costs could be kept in line, this nonlinear supply chain process worked.

The world is changing, and in logistics and warehousing, that means everything is getting faster. Historically, logistics and warehousing processes were seen as cost centers, today, they are a source of competitive advantage if they can be run with the necessary speed and flexibility. To stay competitive you must utilize a digital approach in both supply chain and warehouse management. Digital supply chain transformation calls for agility, which you get through functionality like resource management tools that come integrated with a Warehouse Management System. Companies want to be able to utilize algorithms that will offer quick, intelligent recommendations on how to best adjust their workforce. The benefit of an integrated application platform is you can have a much more optimized fulfillment process. Today, optimized fulfillment has become a source of competitive advantage. Improved fulfillment processes and keeping customers satisfied. Whether they are consumers or business-to-business customers this is how companies are turning a profit.

Real-Time Management Over Machines And Labor

Many WMS's can do the basics like manage to receive and put away, some order picking, handle replenishment, or support radio-frequency picking, but in today’s world, a basic WMS doesn’t deliver the needed edge. To have effective fulfillment, you need a WMS that manages not only inventory, but also labor and machines stays in sync with transportation updates, and is easy to personalize. This approach adds to the competitive edge of your complete digital supply chain.

The Warehouse Is In Sync With Your Logistics Operations

This combined solution automatically adapts to updates from carriers or partners regarding late shipments, incomplete shipments, and estimated arrival times, so that the warehouse can better allocate labor, assign docks, and ensure labor or machine resources aren’t idle or unavailable.

Ease Of Customization

Today's WMS systems are highly customizable. Different roles in an organization want to see warehouse and logistics trends in different ways, from associates on the floor, who need task direction and highlights on goals; to managers, who need to plan and allocate labor, to executives, who want to drill down into costs. Having a customizable solution with consistent dashboards and interfaces enables each user to maximize the features and benefits of the solution and accelerates user adoption and increases overall productivity.

These are just a few reasons to link your digital supply chain to an effective WMS system. The reality is you have no choice. Adapt or die. For a full review of your current supply chain technologies contact us today www.Land-Link.com. To stay current with today's technology and how it affects your business sign up to receive our blog posts.

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UPS Warns A Possible Strike As Teamsters Eye Coming Vote

Posted by Land Link on Nov 7, 2018 6:20:34 PM

The Teamsters union is threatening a strike over the terms of this years contract. As of October 25, the Teamsters National Freight Negotiating committee has received its last best offer from UPS freight. Voting on the contract will be happening throughout this week starting November 7. The previous contract was rejected on October 5th. There is a 30-day extension of the current contract which will expire on November 12th. The negotiating committee demanded:

1) tighter restrictions and limits on subcontracting and rail usage;
2) higher wage increases that are not split;
3) earning protection for city drivers when they perform dock work;
4) elimination of the new qualifiers for pension and vacation benefits; and
5) a week’s worth of vacation pay for all classifications based on 1/52 of the prior year’s earnings.

The negotiating committee has determined that the LBFO does not sufficiently address the issues raised by the members. Nevertheless, because of the company’s insistence that there is no more money to be had and in order to allow its members to make an informed decision on a question that will affect them and their family, the negotiating committee decided to submit the LBFO for acceptance or rejection. a strike has already been authorized. While a strike is a last resort, if the members reject this final offer from the company there will be no other options and there will be a strike at a time and location(s) determined by the negotiating committee.

The Repercussions of A UPS Strike

Two decades ago, 187,000 employees at UPS walked off the job for 16 days. As of Wednesday, the company’s union workers, now numbering 260,000, are threatening to do so again. The walkout on Aug. 4, 1997, led to hundreds of millions of dollars in losses for UPS. It was, at the time, one of the biggest nationwide strikes the country had ever seen. It was a different time, though. The strike impacted consumers differently than it would today since business owners saw the most direct effects, often unable to restock shelves. The consequences of a strike today may be much more severe than that of 20 years ago. The online community, from both a seller and purchaser viewpoint, will be dramatically affected. When we think online retailing we have to think about Amazon. They will be the barometer for the effects of a UPS strike on the economy and international commerce.

Amazon’s tight relationship with UPS is supplemented by one with the U.S. Postal Service. Should UPS be unable to deliver customer packages, it’s possible the retailer will lean heavier on the USPS. Trump, though, is no fan of that relationship, attacking Amazon in a series of tweets earlier this year, saying the company wasn’t paying enough to ship packages. Experts have disputed this position, saying Amazon and other online retailers have helped stanch the post office’s declining cash flow. Still, a weakened Amazon could bring another round of Trump attacks. Or, worse, inaction.

President Bill Clinton refused to stop the 1997 strike, even though he did have the legal power to do so under the Taft-Hartley Act. But Labor Secretary Alexis Herman strongly urged the two sides to stay at the negotiating table for 80 hours of talks in a five-day period. That pressure is credited as one of the reasons the strike didn’t last long. The LTL Strike of 1994 Crippled interstate commerce for weeks. I was a seasoned Transportation manager during the strike of 94. It involved the teamster drivers employed by some 20 plus common carries. LTL comprises the bulk of freight shipments domestically so the impact was huge. There was a mad scramble to consolidate shipments by carriers nationwide who were not experienced in consolidating small LTL shipments; typically 2-4 pallets. Equipment availability was severely impacted as was delivery schedules and rates. It was a bad time for shippers as they had to look toward truckload and expedited carriers to get their freight delivered. To make matters worse, the mid 90's began the JIT ( Just In Time )inventory system. Simply defined, It was a cost-saving measure to reduce inventory carrying costs started by the automotive industry. It was an effective business philosophy but relied heavily on tightly defined pickup and delivery windows. The significantly devastating downside of such a philosophy is definitely any type of work stoppage.

How Do Protect Your Business From A UPS Strike

It is not likely to happen but fortune smiles on those prepared. Asset availability is going to be the biggest issue. Given the timeframe of the potential threat, there is no time to go through the steps to get set up with additional providers. This is a time when an established 3PL can offer valuable alternatives quickly. In the event of a strike, contact Land Link Traffic Services to help your business get your product delivered. Visit us today www.Land-Link.com.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Technology, Shipping News

Washington May Be Easing Trucking Regulations

Posted by Land Link on Oct 31, 2018 3:22:38 PM

Most industry practitioners believe trucking is a totally deregulated industry. It’s true that, economically, it has been deregulated in interstate commerce since the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, but safety regulations have made it one of the most tightly regulated sectors in interstate commerce. Environmental pollution, driver standards, HOS and electronic logging rules instituted by the FMCSA have been a major cost of doing business in the trucking industry. Following the pro-regulation Obama White House, Trump may be the advocate the trucking industry has been pining for. There has been no significant easing of current regulations but the good news is there is like to be no more additional legislation affecting the industry for the remainder of Trump's term. In this issue, we'll take a look at a few of the major regulations and update you on what's going on.

ELD Update

The three most invasive regulatory hurdles currently facing trucking are the enforcement of electronic logging devices (ELDs), the further tweaking of driver hours of service (HOS), and the move to allow a pilot program of only 200 drivers under the age of 21 into interstate commerce; an age-group that has been locked out of driving the big rigs since the Motor Carrier Act of 1935.
So far this year, the biggest issue for shippers has been the lost productivity due to the full enforcement of the ELD rule. This rule is designed to eliminate cheating on driver HOS through the elimination of paper log books in favor of electronic devices that are difficult to evade. after several delays in implementation and enforcement regulatory enforcement personnel have begun issuing stiff penalties for noncompliance. Industry analysts predict this regulation alone has caused a 3% to 8% drop in carrier productivity. Longtime advocates of ELDs say that the devices ultimately make carriers and their drivers more efficient through better planning of routes to take cost out of the system. Carriers say LEDs can help nudge shippers to work more closely with their carriers on times and locations of pickups. Even little things as reducing congestion at the loading dock can pay big dividends for both shippers and carriers in eliminating inefficiencies. The efficiency gains and improvement in public safety not withstanding, these deficits must be accounted for in the form of rate increases.

Going forward shippers should try and emulate four best practices in order to mitigate the effect ELDs are having on their valuable capacity and rates:
Make sure your business is not overly complicated from a carrier’s perspective;
Eliminate unnecessary stops as well as freight that require multiple moves;
Reduce or eliminate detention times, which ultimately reduces driver pay;
and create favorable lanes and market niches to make your relationships mutually beneficial.

Ultimately, if these goals are realized, shippers can obtain all of the capacity that they need from a variety of carriers vying for their business. Otherwise, carriers say, their choices will lessen and rates increases will skyrocket.

HOS Rules

While compliance with the ELD rule has reached nearly 99% across the trucking industry, truckers continue to complain about HOS regulations, especially the impact they have on agriculture, seasonal deliveries, logging and other sectors of trucking.

Washington is considering revisions in four specific areas:
expanding the current 100 air-mile “short-haul” exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours on-duty in order to be consistent with the rules for long-haul truck drivers;
extending the current 14-hour, on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions;
revising the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after eight hours of continuous driving; and
reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks that are equipped with a sleeper-berth compartment—the so-called “split sleeper” rule.

We'll keep you informed on what revisions, if any, are implemented.

Under-21 being considered

For years trucking companies have advocated under 21 truck drivers. Insurance companies made the idea nearly impossible to implement even if Washington lightened up on this restriction. But on July 3rd this year the DOT announced a pilot program to allow a test group of 18-year-old drivers to operate 80,000-pound rigs. Based upon statistics there really isn’t any question that younger drivers are more likely to crash and be involved in serious incidents. And considering a fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh 40 tons, carriers and safety advocates alike agree that this is no place for on-the-job training. Most carrier management and insurance companies are not proponents of the idea. These potential revisions alone will not solve the driver shortage however, carriers say it’s an example of Washington listening to the industry with an open mind, which itself is a change in the regulatory environment. To stay current on these and other industry topics subscribe to our blog www.Land-Link.com.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Supply Chain Management

Meeting Supply Chain Expectations

Posted by Land Link on Oct 25, 2018 2:52:50 PM

With the rise of Amazon, Uber, and home IoT products, consumer expectations for real-time visibility and connectivity have never been higher. These trends are morphing over from the consumer industry to the B2B sector. Consumers’ experiences are now driving their professional expectations, and this is driving modernization across every industry, perhaps none more so than supply chain. Today manufacturers are investing in digital supply chain technologies that enable total visibility, from end to end. With global IoT tracking and big data analytics, 3 PL's will become a valuable resource which can rise to the challenge of today’s heightened consumer expectations, delivering an experience on par with and even surpassing the consumer and B2B expectations.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Big Data, Logistics News

Truckers Considering Demand-Based Pricing

Posted by Land Link on Oct 18, 2018 11:16:47 AM

Truckers are considering adopting a demand-based pricing algorithm very much like the Uber system. Pricing for transportation services will fluctuate on any given day based upon shipper demand. One could only imagine what an end of the month, end of quarter scenario may look like for shippers. A departure from contract rates to be sure and, if implemented, the spot rate market may never be the same. Transportation prices have been rising every quarter for the last couple of years. Pricing forecasts for 2019 suggest some leveling out of prices. But the current pricing environment is here to stay. Rising interest rates and the ongoing driver shortage will ensure that. It's unclear if this aggressive pricing structure will fly with shippers who have come to enjoy bargain basement pricing for 20 years or more but there is little in the way of options. Rail was always a good option if price was a particular concern. But those rates are up as well and the less than favorable transit times are always an issue. Add to that the limited type of freight that can travel rail. It has to be a durable commodity. Also, the added cost of extra packaging makes rail less of an option.

Tips To Maximize Your Transportation Spend

Consolidation efforts may have never been more useful than they are in today's market. Uber has an interesting option in their offerings called Uber Pool. Riders simply purchase a seat in the car rather than the entire vehicle for roughly a 15% savings. The downside is if you're in a hurry don't opt for Uber Pool. You may be the first person to be picked up but the last to be dropped off. Freight transportation is not much different. In choosing to consolidate your shipment with another your maximizing cost efficiency at the expense of transit time. So, understand your customers delivery expectations clearly. I can think of dozens of examples when the transit time understandings of the shipper and consignee were vastly different.

Plan Ahead

A transportation planners life would be simplified greatly if only they had more lead time. The majority of the time this is easily accomplished. More lead time allows for more accurate availability predictions, more consolidation options, and what should translate to a more efficient transportation spend. Avoid shipping on Fridays. Fridays are busier, particular as we near the end of the month. Fridays also limit the consolidation efforts as trucks are anxious to get headed toward home. Another topic to pay attention to is packaging. Typically, if your using standard pallets, your classification and space requirements should be easily calculated. How you package your freight can have a drastic effect on your freight classification and resulting cost. If your pallets do not fit side by side or are not stackable, you’re paying for both the space next to you and the one above. Possible tripling your fright costs from a class 55 to 200 or higher.

Work At The Marriage

As a shipper, you should do everything you can to create harmony in the relationship. We've written repeatedly about becoming a "Preferred Shipper" in the minds of your carries. This harmonious and mutually beneficial relationship has a measurable effect on the performance of your carrier when it comes to effectively moving your freight. From simple things like a driver rest area to the packaging and speed of loading and unloading the freight. Drivers want to keep moving. Certainly near or at the top of the list is payment. Do everything possible to be in compliance with the terms of payment.
An experienced 3 PL can help your organization with all of these efforts to maximize your transportation efficiencies through what may be the most challenging holiday season in decades and in years to come. Contact us today www.Land-Link.com for guidance and planning options that you will certainly need in what is the "new normal" in transportation pricing trends.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Logistics News

How Technology is Affecting Retail

Posted by Land Link on Oct 11, 2018 9:30:55 AM

When it comes to technology in the retail consumer market Wal-Mart is among the lead dogs. When it comes to imaginative, if not bizarre ideas, they may be the lead dog. A Walmart patent application for a biometric feedback shopping cart handle was recently published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, CBInsights reports. The cart handles could track the heart rates, body temperatures and stress levels of customers, possibly averting serious health issues in the stores.

Although I have no doubt Wal-Mart is sincere in safeguarding the general health of its shoppers you've got to ask yourself, what is the real motivation here. What data are they looking to farm? Will the cart sensors measure an interest level in a particular item?. Perhaps feedback on sales promotions. It has to be linked to business. Plain and simple. Why else do it? If so, it doesn't make them the bad guy. It does make sense to integrate customer purchasing habits to their general health. It's good practice to keep the golden geese healthy. Whatever the motivation for this creative approach to shopper habits it's going to have some effect on supply chain management. Logistics professionals are going to need to educate themselves on the new technologies and prepare their practices accordingly. After all, some of this stuff just may yield some unanticipated affects on supply and demand.

Whether the retailer ultimately implements such a costly system companywide is an open question. The patent application says the data would not be linked to specific shoppers. "It is noted that the biometric data and the cart movement data collected during the use of the shopping cart is not tied or otherwise linked to the identity of the individual customer," the company said in its patent application. But this does raise the question of whether this technology might prove too creepy or invasive for customers already concerned about privacy.

Robots In The Aisles

Lowes is testing robots to act as customer service liaisons to aid in customers' searches for whatever they may have visited the store for. I like the idea. I usually have problems finding an educated individual to help me. The upside is the robots will tell you exactly where to find what you're looking for. The downside is the robot lacks the extensive experience that a lot of the Lowes and Home Depot employees have. It's common for semi-retired contractors to work at the major home repair retail outlets and have extensive experience that they're more than willing to share with the novice plumber or whatever your project. The robot will, however, email or text a link to info from a Google search or a YouTube video to help with your project. "LoweBot", as the robot is called, will add a layer of support to amplify the trusted advice of Lowe’s employees as it helps customers with simple questions, enabling more time for employees to focus on delivering project expertise and personalized service. Having the ability to scan inventory and capture real-time data with LoweBot will also help detect patterns or gaps that will ultimately influence business decisions. From a supply chain perspective, robotic customer service applications may not affect the supply chain planning a great deal since the inventory data pretty much starts at the register it's still pretty cool. A much better use of retail technology than the universally despised "self-checkout" kiosk. Someone someday is gonna take one of those out with a large caliber armament. I'm sure of it.

High Supply Chain Efficiency

The present-day customer tends to have a ‘buy-now’ mindset and expects a faultless service through the entire life-cycle of the order. An annual study published in the Future of Retail 2016, shares that in recent times customers expect seamless and quick shipping, delivery, exchanges, and returns from e-commerce firms. Consequently, retailers need to focus on improving their customers’ shopping experience rather than merely increasing their customer base.
Retail technology is helping e-retailers improve their supply chain and logistics using the lean methodology to streamline these processes and eliminate inefficient operations.

A lean organization understands customer value and focuses its key processes to continuously increase it. The ultimate goal is to provide perfect value to the customer through a perfect value creation process that has zero waste. To accomplish this, lean thinking changes the focus of management from optimizing separate technologies, assets, and vertical departments to optimizing the flow of products and services through entire value streams that flow horizontally across technologies, assets, and departments to customers. Supply chain practices such as cross docking, direct delivery to stores, real-time delivery, third-party logistics, and cross-functional integration are playing a major role in making the business processes more efficient. Logistics and Omnichannel order orchestration offer retailers data on real-time orders, inventory visibility, order aggregation and fulfillment, and customer service, enabling them to optimize their supply chain systems.

Cross-Channel Purchases

According to the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper 2016, 38% of all purchases are made through multiple channels. Technology and social media are central to Omnichannel shopping. Shoppers are conducting online product research using mobile applications and going through social media ratings, online customer reviews, brand promotion videos, and product photographs submitted by other users. Consequently, shoppers use multiple channels to make a decision, selecting the products and services with fluidity. In order to ensure consistent profits, e-commerce retailers must improve their digital presence across a variety of channels.

Retail technology is revolutionizing online shopping by enabling businesses to adopt innovative ways to engage their customers. Keeping up with this tech will separate the leaders from the laggards. Stay informed on these and many other technology applications that are right around the corner. To stay informed subscribe to our blog www.Land-Link.com. As always, if you have any questions on how today's technology will affect your supply chain please contact one of our Logistics professionals. 

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Topics: Big Data, Industry Trends