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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.

Author
Michael Gaughan
Technology Officer
Land Link Traffic Systems

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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.

Author
Michael Gaughan
Technology Officer
Land Link Traffic Systems

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Topics: Big Data, Industry Trends

Blockchain And Smart Contracts Are Redefining Commerce And The Supply Chain

Posted by Land Link on Oct 3, 2018 2:24:42 PM

At its core, blockchain is attractive for global trade professionals because it can be used to create a completely secure record of every step in a given business process. Whether one speaks of applications related to finance, operations or logistics, blockchain’s ability to execute encrypted actions that include identification of the parties, authentication of a transaction and the time-stamping of blocks in a chain has a truly universal appeal. In this weeks blog we're going to explore blockchain technology in the supply chain and how this technology has changed international commerce. Blockchains have their problems, but they are rated undeniably faster, cheaper, and more secure than traditional systems, which is why banks and governments are turning to them. Blockchain offers the greatest potential for international trade when three factors are present: a contractual agreement, clearly defined rules that govern the agreement and finally, a transaction that involves a monetary exchange. All of these are managed by smart contracts within the blockchain.

Smart Contracts

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Topics: Industry Trends, Supply Chain Management

Managing Supply Chain Risk

Posted by Land Link on Sep 26, 2018 5:02:38 PM

There's always a little risk involved in any decision. That's where the fun, and profit, begin. The trick, of course, is when, how much and how dangerous. When do you take the risk, what is your level of commitment and what is the downside? Taking and managing risk in today's supply chain market is simply the cost of doing business in a competitive market. Knowing how to manage that risk is becoming increasingly important. 

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Topics: Industry Trends, Technology, Shipping News

Prepare Your Supply Chain For The Holiday Season

Posted by Land Link on Sep 19, 2018 5:03:01 PM

Capacity is already being strained by Halloween candy and costumes. Thanksgiving will follow and finally, the most disruptive holiday, Christmas. Supply chain planners need to consider the effect these holidays will have on capacity and lead times. The rise of e-commerce and the growing “instant gratification” consumer mentality has only exacerbated the need for early and thoughtful peak season preparation. The year-over-year growth of e-commerce continues, and according to the National Retail Federation, the industry will see 8-12% growth this year. This might not sound like much of a difference, but the multi-year compounding effect over the last decade has forced retailers to significantly revamp processes in their warehouses around the world. To facilitate seamless end-to-end omnichannel sales through the biggest shopping season of the year, retailers and manufacturers need to ready their distribution centers well in advance to keep ahead of the holiday rush. To master the busy holiday season, retailers must plan and prepare in order to prosper. Shippers will have to adapt to the demanding market and put even more effort into prepared supply chain planning in order to provide effective customer service and remain profitable. Holiday logistics will be stressful and frustrating, but here are a few tips to help you get through this busy time and mitigate issues during the holiday shipping season.

Take A Look At Last Year

Examine conditions from the previous year's activity. Revenue numbers notwithstanding your customer demand should be similar. What is likely to not be similar is availability and rates. A budget review is a good idea. You may need a reserve fund to cover rising shipping costs this year. Come up with the key points to take into consideration this year to avoid repeating last year’s mistakes.

Adjust your Lead Time As Much A Possible

Lead time planning may be tough since it largely depends upon your customers. Educating your customers on the challenges of shipping during the holiday season is a good idea. 24 hours could make all the difference. Too much inventory is a risky proposition but perhaps the use of predictive analysis using previous years data may justify inventory increases and put you one step ahead of the completion. The culmination of some of these small steps may get you and your customers through the rest of this year relatively unscathed.

Plan for Increased Staffing Needs

Do you plan to add additional shifts do you plan to run during peak holiday logistics season How many temp workers will you need and at what skill levels. It’s best to answer staffing questions early. Demand for qualified temp workers will be high. If you want to attract and keep your workers happy, you should also think about some sort of incentive plan including sign on and performance bonuses for workers who thrive during a very active time.

To keep your supply chain running smoothly subscribe to our blog or contact us @ www.Land-Link.com

Author
Michael Gaughan
Technology Officer
Land Link Traffic Systems

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Topics: Industry Trends, Logistics News

Next Gen Supply Chain: Look to the Cloud

Posted by Land Link on Sep 6, 2018 4:31:33 PM

Wrapping up our technology series we're going to take a look at cloud computing and how it integrates all the supply chain technologies we've been discussing. Cloud computing has been around for a while but growing in popularity and integration. All data will eventually reside in the cloud. Let’s be sure we understand what the cloud is. The cloud refers to software and services that run on the Internet, instead of locally on your computer. Most cloud services can be accessed through a Web browser like Firefox or Google Chrome, and some companies offer dedicated mobile apps. No longer will you load programs on your computer from a CD. The advantage of the cloud is that you can access your information on any device with an Internet connection. It’s what allows you to make edits to various files on your home computer, and then continue where you left off from the office or wherever. The cloud also makes collaboration on the same document possible among several viewers.

Next Gen Supply Chain and the Cloud

Of all the NextGen supply chain technologies, the cloud will be integral. Blockchain, IOT, AI and the digital supply chain will all require cloud computing. In fact some say that the cloud will be the most impactful NextGen technology in the supply chain for the foreseeable future based entirely on its use as a backbone of data interchanges. Industry analysts suggest Amazon’s newfound profitability and efficiency to the effectiveness of its cloud services. In the supply chain application, basically, the cloud centralizes data and offers multiple entities access to that data, decreasing costs and speeding supply chain velocity while adding data security. As with any shared data system, there are security concerns to address. That's where our blockchain technology is implemented. We add is some Internet of Things technology in case we want to share data with other machines and some Artificial Intelligence to teach the machines how to execute their operations more efficiently each time. There is another fundamental shift in the supply chain, and elsewhere for that matter, fueling cloud adoption. Quite simply, companies are starting to treat data as an asset. Furthermore, the value of data only increases as it is accessible across enterprises. As the value of that data increases the responsibility of Transportation companies will increase as we will be among those sharing the data. Logistics professionals will need to reinforce their internal data security network to ensure data integrity or face possibly significant financial liability. While most will agree that we aren’t there yet, the direction is clear. Look to the cloud.

Integration Means Advantage

Companies that take advantage of the latest technology and trends made possible by the cloud will be better positioned to adopt newer technologies that are on the horizon. By staying on the leading edge of technology adoption, you'll level the playing field with larger competitors and be poised for success moving into 2018. This is as true with Logistics companies as with any other service provider. Make the commitment this year to be ready to implement these technologies in 2018. You won't need them all. For more information subscribe to our blog or contact us today at www.land-link.com.

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Topics: Logistics News, Technology

Technologies Reshaping The Global Digital Supply Chain

Posted by Land Link on Aug 29, 2018 11:13:02 AM

In our ongoing technology series, we have concentrated on the Informational and analytical innovation applications which are reshaping supply chain technology as we know it. Namely Blockchain technology, IoT, ( The Internet of Things ), supply chain digitization and 3-D printing. These technologies are the breakthrough software applications which are fueling supporting technologies, some of which we're going to explore today. So let's examine some of the applications that are more hardware based like drones, driver-less vehicles, robotics, smart glasses and augmented reality.

Drone Delivery

Drone delivery offers some significant promise in final mile delivery challenges in particular. But it is not without its' hurdles. Refer back to our March 8th blog post for a quick review. Today, these physical innovations do not yet have a clear business case for large-scale rollout. Nevertheless, hosts of companies are experimenting with them to understand their potential and how their business can change for the better when these technologies are successfully adopted. Drone delivery is hampered by distance and weight limitations, as well as security and delivery confirmation challenges. That being said, drone delivery, with an adequate reception system can have a significant effect on improving final mile delivery and reducing the associated costs. As e-commerce continues to advance, the need for a more viable solution to the problem of delivery in heavily congested and confined urban areas is of global importance. It is estimated that 5 billion people will live in urban areas by 2030. As a result, last mile delivery will become increasingly difficult in urban areas across many global locations.

Driver-less Vehicles

The hurdles for driver-less trucking have mainly dealt with public acceptance and legal issues pertaining to the transition to driver-less trucks. While technology and innovation move at a swift pace, indeed regulatory and infrastructure changes will lag a few years behind.
We may still be a long way away from a future where trucks and ships will be controlled by artificial intelligence (AI) alone. But even so, preparing for a future that is more reliant upon autonomous vehicles should remain a priority for corporations that employ vast fleets across multiple geographic regions. Failure to plan for this eventual inevitability would be a mistake for players in the logistics industry. Driver-less technology will not replace the truck driver. It is expected to ease the driver shortage by increasing the efficiency of the existing driver fleet and improve overall driver safety.

Robotics In The Supply Chain

Just like drone and driver-less technologies robotics applications are limited in their scope of use. Limitations aside; autonomous robots are already bringing innovation to the supply chain and delivering significant value, chiefly because they can help:

• Improve speed and accuracy of routine operations, particularly in warehousing and manufacturing.

• Add efficiency through side-by-side work with humans.

• Reduce the risk of employee injury in dangerous environments.

In addition to these benefits, robotics is a source of reliable labor, high quality, virtually mistake-free, job performance and significant cost savings over humans. With robotic mobility improvements and AI, advancements robotics is expected to play a significant role in the future of global supply chain logistics.

Smart Glasses In The Warehouse

The benefits of smart glasses applications extend beyond the manufacturing plant floor and into virtually any hands-on task within the enterprise. Now, a growing number of distribution centers are beginning to roll out smart glass pilots in their warehouses. Thus far, the most popular logistics application is “vision picking,” whereby visual cues and directions for order fulfillment are projected into the user’s field of view. By receiving hands-free, digital information, warehouse workers can eliminate the need for RFID/laser barcode scanners and paper documents to be more productive. DHL recently completed a pilot program utilizing smart glasses yielding impressive results. The smart glasses provide visual displays of order picking instructions along with information on where items are located and where they need to be placed on a cart, freeing pickers' hands of paper instructions and allowing them to work more efficiently and comfortably. The international trials have shown an average improvement of productivity by 15 percent and higher accuracy rates. The user-friendly and intuitive solution has also halved on-boarding and training times.

Augmented Reality

Before we begin to discuss AR lets try to understand it. Augmented reality is the integration of digital information with the user's environment in real time. Unlike virtual reality, which creates a totally artificial environment, augmented reality uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it. Everyone knows the yellow first down line that would appear on our television sets during NFL games. That is an example of augmented reality. Adding computer-generated content to a background that is real. The applications in Logistics and transportation are real as well. Warehouse employees typically perform multiple actions when managing an order. They must locate the correct product, scan it, and deliver it to the loading dock. However, emerging computer vision and machine learning solutions can identify where a product is located and whether it is the correct product at a much faster pace than could otherwise be achieved by a human. If used correctly, such technology has the potential to significantly reduce the cost of warehousing operations.

To stay informed on these cutting-edge technologies subscribe to our blog @ www.Land-Link.com. As always, we welcome any chance to address your specific logistics questions with you.

Author
Michael Gaughan
Technology Officer
Land Link Traffic Systems

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Topics: Industry Trends, Technology, Logistics News

3-D Printing. What Is It And How Will It Affect Supply Chain Logistics?

Posted by Land Link on Aug 22, 2018 3:39:59 PM

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Topics: Industry Trends, Technology, 3D Printing

The Digital Supply Chain Defined

Posted by Land Link on Aug 15, 2018 4:25:36 PM

This article is yet another dose of enlightenment on our technology series to keep our clients informed on the pace and direction of supply chain industry standards. Previously we have discussed the importance and applications of Blockchain technologies and IoT (the Internet of Things) in logistics and supply chain management. These technologies are transforming the way we do business. To stay up to date and competitive we must stay informed. The issue is most of this stuff is so new and so dynamically changing that keeping up is a challenge for most of us from the old school way we’ve been managing transportation for decades. We have some catching up to do in a hurry.

Digital Supply Chain Defined

I always insist my readers have a firm understanding of our discussion topic. To that end; A Digital Supply chain is defined as A digital supply chain is a supply chain whose foundation is built on Web-enabled capabilities. Many supply chains use a mix of paper-based and IT-enabled processes. A true digital supply chain goes far beyond this hybrid model to fully capitalize on connectivity, system integration and the information-producing capabilities of "smart" components.

Digital Supply Chain 101

Ultimately, virtually every aspect of business will be transformed through the vertical integration of research and development, manufacturing, marketing and sales, and other internal operations, and new business models based on today’s advances. In effect, we are evolving toward the complete digital ecosystem. If you recall from our blogs on Blockchain technology and IoT. The common thread of these and other emerging technologies in the web-based component which allows for inter-connectivity and sharing of real-time information. The days of fax transitions and telephone calls are all but extinct. Email may survive but will likely be phased out in favor of peer to peer communication. Peer to peer communication is a direct connection between users operating on a shared platform bypassing the delay of email or analog communication.

What To Expect

So, the race is on. Companies across industries are already investing heavily to develop their own versions of the DSC. According to a recent PwC study on the rise of Industry 4.0, a third of the more than 2,000 respondents say their companies have started to digitize their supply chains, and fully 72 percent expect to have done so five years from now.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Big Data, Technology

IoT Technology in The Supply Chain and Logistics

Posted by Land Link on Aug 8, 2018 12:53:59 PM

In keeping with our Supply Chain Technology series, we want to discuss in this article the applications and benefits of IoT technology in the supply chain and logistics functions. So, let's begin with a firm understanding of what the "Internet of Things" is. 

Let's start with understanding a few things:

High speed, broadband internet has become the standard, the cost of connecting is decreasing, more devices are being created with Wi-Fi capabilities and sensors built into them, technology costs are going down, and smartphone penetration is sky-rocketing. All these things are creating a "perfect storm" for the IoT. Simply put, IoT is the concept of basically connecting any device to the Internet. Devices can also be interconnected to communicate with each other via the internet. This includes everything from cell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of. This also applies to components of machines, for example, a jet engine of an airplane or the drill of an oil rig. If it has an on and off switch, then chances are it can be a part of the IoT. The analyst firm Gartner says that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices, some even estimate this number to be much higher, over 100 billion. The IoT is a giant network of connected "things," things in this explanation include people. The relationship will be between people-people, people-things, and things-things. In the very near future, you will have to think of little more than setting your alarm clock. After that, all your devices will know to start the coffee, preheat the oven, turn on CNN for the morning financial news...whatever we used to do manually will all be done for us through IoT. The reality is that the IoT allows for virtually endless opportunities and connections to take place, many of which we can't even think of or fully understand the impact of today.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Technology, Supply Chain Management