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Emerging Supply Chain Trends For 2019

Posted by Land Link on Feb 14, 2019 12:29:29 PM

Supply chain protocols worldwide are being transformed. External pressures, technology trends and internal evolution are prompting companies to reevaluate their network to determine how their future supply chain should be structured, both in terms of capacity and capabilities. Let’s look at the four main areas of transformation potentially impacting your supply chain.

Emerging Technologies: Drones, autonomous intelligence and robotic automation will eventually transform warehousing and transportation, which will create networks that may look and operate very differently from those of today. Technology-driven Supply Chain protocols will dominate logistics in the coming years.

Supply Chain Visibility: The Internet of Things, Big Data and data transparency will improve an organizations’ ability to gain visibility on the real-time status of their supply chain network, thus giving them the ability to not only rapidly respond to problems but more importantly, anticipate and prevent them more effectively. Data abundance will be used to draw insights on both short-term and long-term improvements to the supply chain and beyond using statistical analysis.

Sharing Economy: On-demand warehousing and on-demand logistics will allow organizations to be more flexible in how they operate their supply chain. Lower capital expenditure and higher adaptability will likely be attractive for organizations that are in rapidly evolving industries. In 2014 the size of the shared economy was estimated to be 14 billion dollars. By 2025 it is estimated to grow to 335 billion.

Measure The Potential Impact On the Existing Supply Chain
With these broad trends in mind, organizations must constantly track select metrics like warehouse utilization levels, actual customer service level, cost to serve/profitability of product categories, and use of stop-gap measures to determine if there is an ongoing impact on revenue growth and operating margin. We must carefully consider the factors impacting a supply chain design. Examining the external trends, measuring key supply chain metrics and evaluating the network against the business strategy, usually determines that the supply chain requires some or even major overhaul. This is precisely where a qualified 3PL can provide expertise in data analysis and supply chain design. Land Link is expertly qualified to compile and evaluate key metrics in your supply chain performance and determine to what extent these emerging technologies may improve your existing supply chain protocols. Contact us for more information. 

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Topics: Industry Trends, Big Data

Autonomy Is Taking Over The Warehouse

Posted by Land Link on Feb 7, 2019 12:51:48 AM

Automating simple, routine processes frees up workers for other tasks and reduces human error. A common reaction to the increase of automation is the fear of being replaced—but a more optimistic outlook sees robots enhancing human productivity through collaboration, rather than outright replacement.

Skilled workers are in high demand, so it’s important to make the most of the talent you have. Why waste an experienced employee’s valuable time hunting for tools or checking inventory?
ROBi, which stands for Robotically Optimized and Balanced inventory, aims to solve this problem by automating inventory and routine cycle counts to save time and enhance accuracy in automotive manufacturing and warehouse environments.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Technology, Big Data

Uber Freight May Be On Life Support

Posted by Land Link on Jan 30, 2019 5:19:08 PM

Uber Corp continues to operate at a loss. The company lost $4.5 billion in 2017, up from $2.8 billion the year before. Uber reported a loss of $1.1 billion in the fourth quarter on revenues of $2.2 billion. Uber freight has yet to turn a profit. Their parcel division, Uber Rush, is rumored to close in June. The driverless truck division has suspended testing. According to Eric Meyhofer, Head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, “We’ve decided to stop development on our self-driving truck program and move forward exclusively with cars." Meanwhile, Uber's head of freight trucking, Lior Ron, who was also working on autonomous-vehicle technology, is leaving the company.

Uber freight is facing the same challenges as established freight brokers; driver availability. Equipment demand is at historic highs. Carriers and owner operators are able to maximize their revenue in this tight market. Responsible shippers are compelled to stay with established carriers and pay higher rates than chance their freight and brand equity riding with an unknown and unproven carrier. The Uber platform is little more than a bidding platform with shipments going to the lowest bidder. Uber freight would be a useful option for carriers shipping low value, durable freight, with little concern about brand equity. There is little history provided to shippers for Uber freight drivers other than insurance and authority. And it's unclear how much vetting is done on the carriers or owner operator. Uber shippers are trading off higher risk for lower freight rates. Most responsible shippers cannot afford to take this level of risk with their products and associated liability.

Uber may be concentrating on its main business; passenger transportation. Uber has decided to redeploy the engineering teams involved in the self-driving truck project to work inside of Uber's autonomous passenger car business. This shouldn't be a shock. Uber is the dominant leader in the on-demand passenger market and not a huge player in the trucking freight market. With Uber planning one of the largest tech IPOs since Facebook, they must have a compelling story to tell investors about how they plan to maintain their position in the passenger vehicle segment and not be lapped by other players with more compelling technology.

Uber's track record in the autonomous passenger segment is not stellar. They have higher incident rates than other companies, measured in Miles per Intervention. Miles per Intervention is a stat published by Pitchbook showing how often autonomous vehicle's computers require a human to take over. Uber ranks far behind Waymo and Cruise. Waymo is best-in-class with 5,600 miles per intervention. Uber is just 13 miles per intervention. GM's Cruise has better stats, with 1,250 miles per intervention, nearly 100x better than Uber.

Without perfecting or at least improving self driving technology Uber's entire market share is at stake.

For the latest Logistics and Transportation technology news, subscribe to our blog http://www.Land-Link.com/blog.

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Topics: Logistics News, Industry Trends, Technology

Big Data And Your Carrier Profile

Posted by Land Link on Jan 23, 2019 5:36:57 PM

Our industry is solidly in the realm of "Big Data". Big data is like any other data except there are massive amounts of it available from which your transportation providers estimate your overall value as a customer. Data analytics and predictive analysis have become the leading indicators of a company's future business levels. If your organization is not utilizing these tools to predict future needs you may be leaving leveraging power at the bargaining table.

Data Analytics And Predictive Analysis

Data Analytics is not overly complicated. It is the science of interpreting historical data to predict some future utilization. This can be applied to expected manufacturing level, raw materials needs, inventory, and shipping. The application of this data is known as predictive analysis. Predicting the future needs of a company based on historical data coupled with expected future analytics such as increased sales volume or raw materials expense. The critical components of this science are the accuracy of the initial data input and the accurate category of data. Garbage in will give you garbage out and unnecessary data will compromise the utility of your output. So if you want to predict future operating costs be sure to include only financially relevant data. If you want more of a
CRM analysis, be sure to input customer specific data. Be certain of what data you want at the end before you begin.

Maximizing Your Profile Data

Other people have your data as well and are utilizing it to their full advantage. Your vendors and suppliers all have your historical data. Be assured they are using data analytics and predictive analysis to maximize their position every year. Your organization needs to be armed with a similar ordinance to leverage your position. For our purposes, we'll concentrate on your carrier profile data. The volume of data available here can be daunting, especially if you imagine collecting it all in real time. That’s why your first step should be figuring out what question you want to answer. Do you want to understand how winter weather affected your holiday shipping last year? Do you think you can make transit more efficient? Further, big data draws links between all aspects of your supply chain from your supplier to your inventory on hand, to your warehouses to your customers. This information can remind you when it’s time to order more replacement inventory because your stock is running low. It can reveal not only which of your vendors missed shipments, but also which manufacturers’ products got the best customer reviews.

A data analyst looks at information with a totally different perspective than a supply chain manager. Reviewing numbers or other types of information if you’re working with big data, can reveal inefficiencies you’d never noticed. It can identify inefficiencies in routings and contractual agreements that may be renegotiated. The million dollar question is how are you going to get this done within your organization on a timely basis. Clearly, it would take years and the establishment of Data Analytic department to compile and manage this data in house. The rate at which our industry has adopted data analytics simply won't allow you that much time. Not initially anyway and it may be cost prohibitive in the long term. The obvious answer is to outsource your data analytics. As far as your carrier profile is concerned Land Link Traffic Systems has been utilizing data analytics for years. Long ago the founder of Land-Link Traffic Systems Inc. stressed the following. “What does not get measured, does not get fixed”. It would be difficult if not impossible for any rational person to repudiate this thought-provoking statement and important underlying principle of business. Yet, many companies to do just that. Most companies, in fact, do not have the proper measurements and KPIs in place necessary to drive intelligent business decisions and to serve as support to the policies that are relied upon to drive day to day business activities. Visit us today for specific information on our data analytics approach.

Author
Michael Gaughan
Technology Officer
Land Link Traffic Systems

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Topics: Industry Trends, Big Data

A Look At Some Logistics Trends For 2019

Posted by Land Link on Jan 9, 2019 12:38:47 PM

As the logistics industry, and the broader business world, looks to 2019, it’s time to explore what the next year will bring to logistics. After reviewing several industry sources most Logistics professionals are in agreement with all of these trends. We hope this information will help your organization prepare for what's ahead.

1. The Truck Driver Shortage Will Expand With No End In Sight.

The driver shortage has been an ongoing problem for many years. Among the biggest issue is that there is very little interest in trucking careers for young men and women from the 18 - 28-year-old generation. As of now, it appears unlikely that this truck driver shortage will end soon. World Bank data shows that U.S. import and export traffic nearly doubled between 2000 and 2016. During that time period, twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) traffic increased from 28.3 million TEUs in 2000 to over 50 million TEUs in 2016. Despite a huge rise in demand for truckers to transport these imports and exports, the number of qualified drivers is not growing. Young immigrant driver prospects and driver-less technology is simply not enough to fill the void of capable driver solutions.

Driverless trucks probably won’t be here for a few years, mostly due to legal concerns. The good news is once this transition happens, driverless trucks will reduce trucking costs and minimize demand-related trucking shortages.

2. Big Data And Blockchain Technology Will Revolutionize Logistics.

Demand for information technology (IT) services in the logistics industry appears to have increased in recent years as more companies begin to deploy IT resources in their logistics/supply chain operations. That trend will likely continue in 2019 as small and midsize importers and exporters even the playing field against larger counterparts by leveraging big data and blockchain technology.

The implementation of big data will lead to safer supply chains globally. Small to midsize importers and exporters stand to gain the most from new technology since they do not have the resources to create a safe supply chain but will be able to rely on freight companies that provide big data capabilities to customers. The supply chain will be safer, as importers and exporters will have the ability to communicate quickly with global suppliers and automate tasks to minimize human error and eliminate paper.

In 2019, many small to midsize importers and exporters that are working with freight companies will choose to use big data when shipping goods globally. With the touch of a button, they will approve shipment specifications, see their cargo be loaded/unloaded, view the condition of their cargo, read the temperature inside a container, and track important milestones like customs clearance, arrival dates, and delivery receipts. The mass adoption of big data will be a game-changer in logistics.

Blockchain technology will increase transparency for importers and exporters in 2019. It will replace needing extra time and personnel to record transactions within the supply chain. When shipping globally, there are many parties involved, so it will benefit shippers to minimize information disruption, reduce paperwork needed, and maintain access to original information without worrying about tampering during and after shipment.

3. Payments Will Be Safer, And Cross-Border Transactions Will Be Easier.

In 2019, new payment technology will reach the logistics industry on a widespread scale, leading to more secure transactions globally.

The global trend of the last decade toward widespread credit and debit card use, as well as the introduction of cryptocurrency as an alternative form of payment, will accelerate in logistics. In 2019, most shippers will choose to pay for the shipment of goods with major credit or debit cards, as freight companies and other intermediaries are pressured to offer this payment convenience.
This will help everyone, as small to midsize importers and exporters will have payment flexibility, while freight companies can get paid faster.

Globally, the introduction of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin will become widely accepted, leading to safer payments with an eye toward maintaining customer privacy. Whether a major financial institution introduces its own cryptocurrency remains to be seen, but logistics will be ready. For the logistics industry, cryptocurrency will make it easier for cross-border, international payments to be done safely and privately.

One downside of cryptocurrency is concern over countries being able to side-step economic sanctions by using cryptocurrency to pay for goods. Cryptocurrency pioneers and the banking industry are working on security protocols to address these concerns from international governments...mostly the United States.

4. The Logistics Industry Will Continue To Consolidate, Leaving Few Major Players.

Between 2016 and 2018, major developments in logistics led to the consolidation of major shipping companies. The result is fewer shipping carrier options for shippers.

In 2019, this consolidation will continue, with major players in the shipping industry already numbering less than 10. It has become difficult to survive as an independent shipper with a fleet of cargo ships. To compete, shipping companies have joined forces to form shipping alliances.

Today, the top three shipping alliances are 2M, Ocean Alliance and THE Alliance. Together, they are composed of 11 shipping lines, including most major shipping players. In 2019, more alliances may be formed, shipping lines may move to start new alliances or two alliances may merge. Similar trends are emerging in the domestic logistics environment as well.

By the end of 2019, further consolidation may mean higher rates due to less competition. However, through consolidation, shipping companies will offer top-tier customer service and increased capacity. In 2019, consolidation will continue to be a double-edged sword. For these reasons it is important to develop a relationship with a 3rd party Logistics provider to take advantage of established, volume rates and relationships in order to make your organization relevant at the bargaining table. Contact us at www.Land-Link.com today for a no-obligation consultation.

No matter what happens in 2019, it’s clear that change is coming to logistics. Importers and exporters, as well as domestics shippers, must be prepared for the future Logistics environment, or they will be caught off guard.

Author
Michael Gaughan
Technology Officer
Land Link Traffic Systems

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Topics: Logistics News, Industry Trends

Government Shutdown: What it Means for Logistics

Posted by Land Link on Jan 3, 2019 10:09:46 AM

The maturing Government shutdown may soon affect freight operations in the U.S. All positions vital to national security will remain staffed but many are as yet unpaid. Government shutdowns like the one we're experiencing have a significant effect on morale. Everyone involved in the impasse is getting paid, whether they need the money or not. Some resentment by rank and file is completely understandable. Some may express their dissatisfaction through their work performance. Here are some areas in which we will see the most immediate impact.

Truckload Border Crossings

Customs and Border Patrol will prioritize security of all kinds over speedy freight flows, so there is potential for long delays at truck crossings along the northern and southern border. The biggest concern is for ancillary agencies that need to sign off on clearances like USDA, Forest Service, etc. How those agencies prioritize staff is a big question. Being flexible and monitoring crossings will be crucial to gauge any impacts.

Air and Ocean Imports

Air and ocean imports will have the same types of potential delays as truckload crossings; however, the ancillary agencies often play a bigger role at ports and airports. Sequestration cuts in October also had an effect on staffing, which means we will see wait times rise even higher. Again, flexibility is essential here because consistency may be the biggest threat of both a shutdown and further sequestration.

U.S. Domestic Truckload and Intermodal Freight

Day-to-day operations will likely not be disrupted at all because FMCSA is funded as an agency outside of the funding that potentially would be shutting down as part of the continuing resolution being debated. There may be some delays and disruptions delivering to federal facilities that require appointments as facilities may not be staffed to load or unload. Examples include places like military bases, prisons, and federal construction projects. In addition, programs like the EPA SmartWay® program may be included in any furloughed operations.

We are now in day 10 of the partial government shutdown with no talks to reopen scheduled. More people blame President Trump than Democrats in Congress for the shutdown. Forty-seven percent of people held Trump responsible, compared with 33 percent who blamed Democrats, according to a poll by Reuters/Ipsos released on Thursday. Regardless of who is to blame, a prolonged shutdown is bad for everyone. The ripple effects of backlogs and bottlenecks at customs and border crossings could be felt for the coming months.

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Topics: Logistics News, Industry Trends

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: Logistics News, Industry Trends

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: Technology, Big Data

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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