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Meeting Supply Chain Expectations

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

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

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Topics: Industry Trends, Big Data, Logistics News

Truckers Considering Demand-Based Pricing

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

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

Tips To Maximize Your Transportation Spend

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

Plan Ahead

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

Work At The Marriage

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

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Topics: Industry Trends, Logistics News

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.

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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.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Technology, Logistics News

Blockchain Technology is Poised to Transform Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Posted by Land Link on Aug 2, 2018 1:52:04 PM

We've been talking a lot about emerging technologies like Blockchain, IOT, (The Internet of Things) and a worldwide digital supply chain. Change is coming, and it's best we prepare. So, in a several part series, we're going to delve deeper into these technologies to explain the technology and offer some real-world applications in logistics and supply chain management. We'll start the first part of our series by taking a close look at Blockchain Technology.

What Is a Blockchain

The blockchain is a breakthrough technology that is expected to alter most industries in the coming years. Whether you work in the financial world, healthcare or any other sector, you will probably face the consequences yourself soon enough. But what is this thing you’re going to face? The technology has been the driving force behind the Bitcoin craze. It is precisely the authenticity aspect of the technology that is most valuable and provided validity and auditable confirmation to the valid value of products like Bitcoin. It gives investors a comfort level, perhaps to a degree like never.

So, in layman's terms lets look at an international shipment as an example to demonstrate the blockchain application. The blockchain is a distributed database existing on multiple computers at the same time. By "distributed" it means that all parties have access to the shipment details of our example shipment. To understand what a block is, in our example, it may be the origination documentation, customs forms, bill of lading, etc. The "Blockchain" is constantly growing as new sets of recordings, or ‘blocks,’ are added to it. So, again using our example, the next block might contain details on the sailing date, cargo vessel, and container ID. Each block includes specific information, a timestamp and a link to the previous block, so they form a chain. So, you might imagine the next "block" would contain details of the destination port, offloading time and warehouse location. The next block would likely include information on the cartage agent, truck number, driver ID, etc. And finally, the last block would contain details on the final delivery including proof of delivery signatures and time stamps. The heightened level of security and impervious nature of the technology to fraud is what blockchain offers to transactional business like ours and just about every other industry. The database is not managed by anybody; instead, everyone in the network gets a copy of the whole database. Old blocks are preserved forever, and new blocks are added to the ledger irreversibly, making it impossible to manipulate by faking documents, transactions, and other information. So, blockchain is independent, transparent, and secure. The advantages of such a distributed ledger are apparent: being it cost and risk reduction, data security, or transactions transparency, companies from most industries can surely benefit from this new technology.

So now that we have a clear understanding of blockchain technology let's examine some Logistics and Supply Chain applications that are emerging today.

Shipping and Receiving Functions

Cargo companies across the world, especially those that support international delivery, recognize the benefits of the blockchain technology. The technology can allow the company to track each item while simplifying the existing logistics process. Maersk, the world’s biggest operator of shipping containers, has already experimented with blockchain. They along with Dutch Customs and US Department of Homeland Security used the technology to keep tabs on the movement of their cargo across international borders. Maersk has now teamed up with IBM to develop highly secure logistic systems that will alter the global trade landscape for good.

The system is expected to save billions of dollars for companies engaged in freight transportation by replacing existing logistic processes. It will help to reduce errors, improve delivery times and enable detection of fraud while lowering costs incurred.

Invoice Paperwork and Payments

A significant challenge in logistics is developing efficient and secure systems for invoicing and payments. For decades shippers have extended payment terms by insisting on receiving original proof of delivery receipts for example. Blockchain will eliminate the need for such documentation. Tallysticks has developed a platform, launching in September, based on blockchain that can handle invoicing and payments for logistic and other businesses. Based on smart contracts, it automatically sanctions a payment corresponding to an invoice. Visa has also jumped on the blockchain bandwagon and has launched its B2B Connect payment service. It aims to simplify payments across international borders while ensuring security and transparency. It also provides that a system that prevents frauds and minimizes errors is in place without involving a middleman.

Inventory Tracking

Blockchain technology can be used to build an efficient system that allows different companies to keep track of their products even at micro levels. Multiple food retailing companies have partnered with IBM to develop a system based on blockchain that allows tracking of food items. The alliance includes Walmart, Nestle, and Unilever to name a few. The technology will enable the company to backtrack individual food items back to the farm. Walmart has successfully experimented twice with the blockchain. It tracked pork in China and mangoes in Mexico to their origins. This accurate tracking ability is of importance in recall situations threatening public health.

How will tracking a fruit or meat product be useful? Roll back to the E. coli outbreak in the U.S. ten years ago wherein spinach infected with the microorganism spread the disease. If a similar incident occurs in the future, it will be easy to identify the infected batches of the commodity. There will be no need to destroy the whole stock, only the infected ones. Time is of the essence for managing such incidents and limiting the damage to both the public health and the corporations brand value.

To stay informed on the emerging technologies that are affecting our industry register to receive our weekly blog. For specific information on how your company can benefit from these emerging technologies contact one of our Logistics professionals today www.Land-Link.com.

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Topics: Technology, Logistics News, Supply Chain Management

Technology and Big Data: What Shippers and Logistics Professionals Need to Know

Posted by Land Link on May 23, 2018 12:16:36 PM

Perhaps more than most other industries shippers and logistics companies seem to be late to the table when it comes to implementing technology. I know some carriers who operated without a website well in to the 90's. This tardiness to implement that technology which everyone else has adopted may eventually lead to their economic demise. The ability to provide big data driven information and the ability to protect that data have become a critical requirement. Some companies are finding themselves unqualified to bid on contracts if they cannot provide the data and technology required by customers.

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Topics: Big Data, Industry Trends, Logistics News

Economic Indicators and The Role Logistics Plays in The Domestic U.S. Economy

Posted by Land Link on May 9, 2018 9:15:50 AM

The economy seems to be on a role and, of course, it's happy times at home. Let's look at what is driving this current surge and how logistics plays a key role. Every major economic indicator points to a robust economic outlook. The major indicators are construction, healthcare, energy, agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation. It's the last two sectors which we are most interested in.

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Topics: Supply Chain Management, Logistics News, Industry Trends

The Coming Evolution of Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Posted by Land Link on May 3, 2018 4:55:02 PM

The transportation and logistics industry are currently going through some major transformations. The current metamorphosis is creating opportunities as well as challenges. Successful shippers are looking for ways to adjust to the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities. The economy, labor, and I believe, most dramatic, is the technology component which will be the game changer. Astonishingly what seemed like an unrealistic idea ten years ago, today, is now plausible because of technology. From robotics to radio frequency identification technology to blockchain applications, the possibilities are intriguing to say the least. The challenge for supply chain professionals is how to stay current on these applications and how they can give your business the competitive edge that often makes the difference between black and red on the financial statements. Let's cover a few key areas in which every supply chain professional should have a firm understanding.

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Topics: Logistics News, Supply Chain Management, Industry Trends, Technology

Diesel Prices at a 3 Year High

Posted by Land Link on Apr 18, 2018 12:39:49 PM

Just as the domestic manufacturing sector is enjoying a strong and steady growth a 6.1-cent jump in diesel fuel prices across the country, during the week ending April 16, have diesel at its highest point of 2018, and its highest since the beginning of 2015. The U.S.’ average price for a gallon of on-highway diesel now stands at $3.104, the highest since the week ending Jan. 5, 2015, when diesel averaged out at $3.137. The increase was spurred by significant increases in all regions across the country, with the most significant increases being seen in the West Coast, which saw a 7-10 cent jump.

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Topics: Logistics News, Logistics Business, Shipping News, Industry Trends