LandLinkBLOG_banner.jpg

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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. 

Read More

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

Read More

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. 

Read More

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.

Read More

Topics: Industry Trends, Logistics News

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.

Read More

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

Read More

Topics: Industry Trends, Technology, 3D Printing