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‍AI and IoT are Ready for Your Warehouse

Posted by Land Link on Feb 12, 2020 3:25:35 PM

Artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things are making their initial forays into a myriad of warehouse operations. The expected outcome; DCs able to respond dynamically to current supply chain conditions instead of pre-set rules. Look for newfound flexibility and an ability to respond to specific customer demands. The general programming protocol is to minimize human intervention in daily supply chain operations. This should not be news to anyone involved in complicated supply chain systems.

We are at the point where AI and IoT are viable IT applications for the warehouse. Both are powerful new tools that better enable warehouse and distribution center activities to keep pace with rapidly shifting supply chain dynamics. Artificial intelligence systems can learn, over time, the patterns and trends that are most important. It can identify when specific events occur which require human intervention. It can sense security breaches and stop them before they become crises. Simply put, for the IoT to grow to its full potential, it needs the processing power of artificial intelligence.

Integration Into the Supply Chain

AI promises a brave new world of computers that can plan, strategize, evaluate options, calculate probabilities, and make smart decisions. The inter-connectivity and dual reliance of both systems is evident in the automotive applications currently being tested. Repetitive daily environments are best suited for early stage AI learning and IoT experiences at this stage in the application. An example is a typical commercial bus route. The travel route is planned and timed out as are the stops. IoT applications including sensors, video cameras and time keeping technology all gather data throughout the daily route. This data is the basis upon which AI evaluates and electronically digests the information. It is through the digestion process that AI basically learns the particular details of the route like staying on time, the average number of passengers per stop, and, in fact, the unpredictable events like traffic and weather delays. It is through this repetitive experience that AI will eventually be able to maximize the efficiency of the route by anticipating daily events along the route based upon historical data.

The same inference can be applied to a route for a commercial delivery unit whether it be a truck, plane, train or any other conveyance unit. In this example the desired result is the same. To maximize efficiency by learning the route and experiencing every possible condition which may affect it so contingency plans can be implemented in real time to maintain the integrity of the delivery. The benefit of this technology application will become evident once driver less technology is fully implemented.

Early Areas of Implementation

AI can significantly improve business operations by leveraging the tremendous amount of data generated by sensors monitoring the production and movement of products using IoT. The result is referred to as AIIOT, which is the merging of AI and IoT to manage inventory, logistics, and suppliers with a higher level of awareness and precision. The supply chain is one area that can benefit the most from streamlining since it has a direct influence on profitability and customer satisfaction.

There are already several implementations of AI and machine learning where supply chain efficiency is improved:

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Topics: Transportation News, Shipping News, Logistics News, Industry Trends, Technology, Big Data

Technology Has Driven 3rd Party Involvement in the Supply Chain

Posted by Land Link on Feb 6, 2020 9:11:51 AM

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

Fixing Our Country's Crumbling Infrastructure

Posted by Land Link on Jan 23, 2020 11:59:15 AM

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Topics: Supply Chain Management, Transportation News, Shipping News, Logistics News, Industry Trends

Supply Chain Management Outsourcing Expected To Be An Ongoing Trend

Posted by Land Link on Jan 8, 2020 10:27:38 AM


Eighty-five percent of supply chain managers expect their outsourcing budget to increase by more than 5% in 2020, according to Gartner, Inc. A sizeable portion of that will be aimed at choosing multiple third-party-logistics (3PL) partners.

The question no longer is whether to outsource; it's what to outsource and how much. Evaluating different outsourcing strategies has become a priority for global managers. To be effective, the supply chain outsourcing strategy needs to be aligned with the overall logistics priorities. Supply chain leaders are realizing that updating their technology systems, increasing speed to customer and improving visibility are their most important goals for next year. We are in the thick of the digital era and new routes to market and technology-enabled products and services are rapidly disrupting industries and business models. To respond to these accelerated and evocative changes, logistics leaders need not only understand the foundational elements of good overall strategy, but also rethink how their logistics outsourcing strategy is assessed and developed.

If your organization is considering a 3PL relationship here are several potential benefits to consider:

Improve global capabilities. 3PLs have on-ground knowledge of local markets, regulations and government agencies, and understanding of capacity constraints.

Reduce costs. 3PLs can help reduce excess carrying costs, return goods cost and lost sales. They can also help manufacturers move more material with fewer assets while still meeting customer requirements. In some cases, manufacturers can realize savings when consolidating warehouses and/or using shared facilities operated by 3PLs.

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Topics: Third Party Logistics, Transportation News, Logistics Business, Shipping News, Logistics News, Industry Trends

Major Trucking Company's Bankruptcy May Be the Tip of the Iceberg

Posted by Land Link on Dec 11, 2019 11:37:00 AM


Celadon Transport, a division of the Celadon group filed for bankruptcy protection this week just days after two former officials were charged in an accounting fraud scheme. The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by the Indianapolis based Celadon Group left more than 3,000 drivers jobless and, in many cases, stranded drivers across the U.S. after their company gas cards were cancelled.  Another 500 administrative jobs are expected to be eliminated through the bankruptcy.

Celadon's former president and chief operating officer, William Meek, 39, and its former chief financial officer, Bobby Lee Peavler, 40, were indicted on conspiracy and other charges. They knew the value of a substantial portion of Celadon's trucks had declined and that many trucks had serious mechanical issues that made them unattractive to drivers, according to the indictment.

Earlier this year, Celadon agreed to pay $42.2 million to settle securities fraud allegations stemming from falsely reporting profits and assets. The company's stock was trading at less than 3 cents a share on Monday, down from a 52-week high of $2.83 last April 11. Celadon said it was the largest provider of international truckload services in North America, and its bankruptcy filing means 3,300 trucks and 10,000 trailers will stop rolling.

Among the big companies that failed in 2019 are New England Motor Freight, which employed more than 1,400 drivers. HVH Transportation, Falcon Transport and LME have all shuttered operations this year, too. Part of the problem, according to Donald Broughton, principal and managing partner of data firm Broughton Capital, is that spot pricing has dropped, which is hurtful to smaller companies that operate in the spot market instead of the contract market. Spot prices refer to shipping prices as they currently exist.

Trade tariffs, as well as slowdowns in a variety of markets, including housing and auto, contributed to the drop, Broughton had told FOX Business. He predicted companies would continue to fail into 2020 because of the weak pricing environment.

Additional pain for the industry could be coming next year in the form of labor laws designed to protect contracted workers from being misclassified. In California, for example, starting in January a law will go into effect that will make it harder for companies to classify workers as contractors, which the California Trucking Association has said could put 70,000 owner-operators in the state out of work. The group has sued to prevent the law from taking effect.

New Jersey is considering similar presumption-of-employment status legislation, which has caused alarm among the state’s trucking industry, as well.

What Shipper Can Do To Protect Shipments

The thousands of trucks stranded Celadon trucks likely have customers shipments onboard which will not be delivered anytime soon.  Getting that freight delivered will likely cost significantly more than the original rate.  The most damaging aspect of getting caught in a bankruptcy like this one is that thousands of customers supply chain has been significantly disrupted.

The best way to protect yourself against insolvent and even under achieving carriers is to vette them annually.  Review financial statements, credit ratings, customer experiences on social media and verifiable on time percentages.  Another option is to employ a 3rd party Logistics Firm to help with routing decisions.  At Land Link Traffic Systems carrier vetting is a standard procedure.  We take every precaution to route our customers freight with a financially healthy carrier with above average performance.

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Topics: Supply Chain Management, Third Party Logistics, Transportation News, Logistics Business, Shipping News, Logistics News, Industry Trends

Emerging Freight and Trucking Markets

Posted by Land Link on Nov 6, 2019 9:19:31 AM


The trucking sector is going through a major paradigm shift due to the ongoing digitization of the industry and the increased transparency resulting from the digitization and the launching of a trucking forward and freight futures market. It’s now three-dimensional market comprised of the spot, forward and trucking freight futures markets. As the trucking forward and futures markets gain traction, the three markets will become increasingly more interrelated.

Forward Market

The forward market is being established where shippers place “buy” orders to procure future trucking capacity anywhere from two weeks to six months plus out and carriers place “sell” orders to provide trucking capacity to shippers in the same time frame. As opposed to the existing non-standardized RFP based contract market,  forward contracts are binding and based on a standardized contract. They provide guaranteed load volume/trucking capacity and rates to shippers and carriers, and the contract rates can be hedged via trucking freight futures.

Trucking Freight Futures Market

The trucking rate futures market was launched at the end of March 2019 on the Nodal Exchange. The underlying rate, which the futures markets track, are indices produced by DAT and updated daily. There are seven directional lanes and four calculated indices, each with a 16-month series. Trucking freight futures provide a trucking rate volatility hedging tool for trucking carriers, shippers and third-party logistics (3PL) providers, allowing them to lock in a trucking rate today for up to 16-months in the future. What does this mean for trucking carriers, shippers and 3PLs? Due to this increased transparency, trucking rates will become more volatile, will change more frequently and will be increasingly influenced by changes in the trucking forward and freight futures markets. Carriers and shippers will be able to see changes in trucking rates around the country in all three markets on a more “real time” basis, causing rates in their lanes to adjust much faster.

Trucking freight futures provide a very effective way to hedge trucking rate risk, and the forward market provides a hedge to lock in guaranteed rates and load volume and trucking capacity on a multi-month basis. There are also viable cross-market hedging and profiting strategies that can be executed on in conjunction with the trucking forward and futures markets.

3-Dimensional Execution

The new three-dimensional market provides new ways for market participants to mitigate trucking rate risk, determine trucking rates and pricing and to procure trucking capacity or access load volume. The successful companies in this new market will be those that learn to engineer execution strategies via combined solutions from each of the three markets. Regardless of whether a market participant ever uses binding forward and or trucking freight futures, it will need to stay current on the pricing trends in both the trucking forward and freight futures markets as spot market rates in their lanes will be affected by both.

Technology is spawning hybrid markets in many sectors.  The successful logistics planner will be the one who understands these emerging markets.  To stay informed on this and many other Logistics topics, subscribe to our blog.

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

Parcel Deliveries Clogging Up City Streets

Posted by Land Link on Oct 30, 2019 1:37:40 PM

The boom in online stores is increasing the demand for parcel delivery services, particularly in the big cities. New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are experiencing serious traffic issues due to the amount of parcel delivery vans clogging the city streets. Add to this the number of ride share drivers in any metropolitan area daily and it is easy to see how things are getting congested.

Consumers today are spending less time in local stores and more time online, buying not only retail items but also groceries from Peapod, office supplies from Postmates and whatever they need from Amazon. According to the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board, it’s estimated that, on average, every person in the U.S. generates demand for roughly 60 tons of freight each year. In 2010, the United States Post Service overtook both FedEx and UPS as the largest parcel-delivery service in the country and delivered 3.1 billion packages nationwide. Last year, the USPS delivered more than 5.1 billion packages. The growth in e-commerce is fueling a rise in the number of delivery vehicles box trucks, smaller vans and cars alike on city streets.

While truck traffic currently represents about 7% of urban traffic in American cities, it bears a disproportionate congestion cost of $28 billion, or about 17 percent of the total U.S. congestion costs in wasted hours and gas. Cities, struggling to keep up with the deluge of delivery drivers, are seeing their curb space and streets overtaken by delivery vehicles, to say nothing of the bonus pollution and road wear produced thanks to a deluge of Amazon Prime orders.

The problem, really, is that we now live in a world where the brick-and-mortar stores are only one part of the retail equation and, as many a “retail apocalypse” story is warning, they are a shrinking part. Demand is being driven by people in their individual homes and apartments ordering smaller amounts of goods with higher frequency: groceries one day, several items from Amazon the next. As more goods are ordered, more delivery trucks are dispatched on narrow city streets. Often, the box trucks will double-park in a two-lane street if there’s no loading zone to pull into, snarling traffic behind them.

Many American cities are also playing catch-up as they try to understand these new urban delivery challenges and systems. That’s due in part to the failures of urban planning and the nature of the trucking business. While matters of public policy like public transit, bike lanes and walkability fall within the purview of planning boards and municipal departments of transportation, freight has always been a purely private-sector enterprise. Cities don’t have reliable data on the number of delivery trucks coursing through their streets; let alone planning for them.

Looking For Solutions

Cities can’t just ticket their way out of the delivery-truck problem. For big commercial delivery companies, parking fines are just part of the cost of doing business. UPS paid New York City $18.7 million in parking fines in 2006. In 2011 in Washington, D.C., UPS alone received just shy of 32,000 tickets.

If enhanced enforcement isn’t the answer, diverting delivery traffic might be. Seattle is taking an inventory of all the remaining alley space in the city. Instead of letting developers extend housing lots into the alleys, they might be used to accommodate some of the incoming delivery traffic.

Delivery companies are also experimenting with ways to reduce their impact. Late last year, UPS introduced its first “eBike” deliveries in Portland, Oregon. The goal is twofold: Reduce carbon emissions while putting a delivery vehicle on the road small enough to take advantage of curb space. UPS is also integrating across its U.S. routes its new big-data tool, On-Road Integrated Optimization Navigation (ORION). As a UPS driver travels their route, ORION works in the background considering up to 200,000 possible routes before picking the most optimal route for a driver to take to reduce the overall time spent driving around from delivery to delivery. The next generation is going to be a real-time tool taking traffic into account.

UPS currently uses drones to help drivers in rural delivery locations. It’s unclear how practical drone delivery can be in a metropolitan area considering the risk of personal injury, theft and inaccurate consignee deliveries. The solution to the congestion problem will likely come from many angles over the coming years. We simply were not prepared for the online purchasing boom and have never caught up.

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Topics: Supply Chain Management, Transportation News, Logistics Business, Shipping News, Logistics News, Industry Trends, Technology

Freight Declines Continue Through September

Posted by Land Link on Oct 17, 2019 11:19:58 AM



The most recent edition of the Cass Freight Index Report issued this week by Cass Information Systems highlighted another month of freight transportation shipment and expenditure declines in September. The Cass freight index is widely considered the most accurate barometer of industry activity and trends.

September shipments, at 1.199, were up 0.8% compared to August and down 3.4% annually, marking the tenth consecutive month of annual shipment declines.

Shipments initially turned negative in December 2018 for the first time in 24 months, when it fell 0.8%. January and February were down 0.3% and 2.1%, respectively. As previously reported, the December and January shipment readings were up against respective all-time highs reached in December 2017 and January 2018, coupled with stabilizing patterns in nearly all underlying freight flows.

The culprit is generally considered to be weakness in spot market pricing for many transportation services, especially trucking, which is consistent with the negative Cass Shipments Index and, along with airfreight and railroad volume data, strengthens concerns about the economy and the risk of ongoing trade policy disputes. This weakness and decreases in the prime lending rate are supporting arguments for a looming recession.

The CASS report highlighted concerns regarding inflation and concerns about contract pricing and cancellation of transportation equipment orders, with four key factors playing a role, including:

1. Almost all modes of transportation used their pricing power to create    capacity, which first dampened and has now killed pricing power.

2. Spot pricing (not including fuel surcharge) in all three modes of truckload freight (dry van, reefer, and flatbed) has been falling for 15 months. Spot pricing, using dry van rates as a proxy, fell dramatically from its peak in June 2018 (more than $0.50 a mile) to at one point in May falling to more than 30.0%below contract pricing (a level Cass declared unsustainable). The highly discounted pricing available in the spot market has attracted an increased amount of demand, which has deteriorated pricing in the contract market (which is down $0.20 a mile or -9.7% in the last 14 months), and has begun to close the gap between contract and spot.

3. The cost of fuel (and resulting fuel surcharge) is included in the Cass Expenditures Index. Since the cost of diesel has been negative over the last 4 months on a YoY basis (down -5.4% June, down -5.8% in July, down -6.6% in August, down -7.9% in September), it is increasing the negative amount of pricing reported.

4. Whether driven by capacity addition/creation or lower fuel surcharges (or a combination of both, which is our best guess) the Expenditures Index has continued to decline: the September 2019 Index is down -4.5% from its peak in September 2018.

What To Expect

In the first half of 2019, around 640 trucking companies went bankrupt, according to industry data from Broughton Capital LLC. That's more than triple the amount of bankruptcies from the same period last year — 175.

The slow down in trucking has especially affected small carriers, who operate largely on the spot market. Trucking loads can either be picked up on demand through the spot market, or through a pre-arranged contract. The contract market comprises the vast majority of the trucking market, according to the American Trucking Associations.  Trucking has been in a recession since the first half of 2019, according to ACT Research. That fact doesn't surprise truck drivers, dozens of whom have seen their earnings slashed this year.

Spot market rates have crashed in 2019, while contract market rates haven't seen the same dip. According to the most recent Chainanalytics-Cowen Freight Indices report, dry van spot rates are down 16.1% from the same period in 2018. Contract rates in dry van are down 8.1%.

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Topics: Supply Chain Management, Third Party Logistics, Transportation News, Logistics Business, Shipping News, Logistics News

UPS Is Granted FAA License

Posted by Land Link on Oct 2, 2019 1:52:20 PM

UPS announced this week that it is the first to receive the official nod from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate a full “drone airline,” which will allow it to expand its current small drone delivery service pilots into a country-wide network. Obviously, it’s a huge win for UPS Flight Forward, which is the dedicated UPS subsidiary the company announced it had formed earlier this year to focus entirely on building out the company’s drone delivery business. There’s still a lot left to do before you can expect UPS drones to be a regular fixture, or even at all visible in the lives of the average American.

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Topics: Transportation News, Logistics News, Industry Trends, Technology

You Can Now Hail A Helicopter From Your Smartphone

Posted by Land Link on Jun 12, 2019 12:22:05 PM

The Transportation industry has evolved dramatically in the last several years all thanks to the smartphone. Without it Uber and Lyft would not exist, nor would Uber Freight. It seems now you can request a Uber helicopter in New York City. Uber is adding regular helicopter air service to the heaviest users of its platform with Uber Copter; a new service line launched this month that will provide on-demand transportation from Lower Manhattan to JFK airport for, on average, between $200 and $225 per person, which includes car service to and from the helipad at each end. A ground transportation ride to the same destination is less than half the helicopter ride but the convenience and thrill may be worth it. Given the NYC traffic it may be worth the extra fare to not miss your flight. Plus, this isn’t something just anyone can access: It’s reserved for Platinum and Diamond members of Uber’s Rewards program, which means you’ll have to already be dropping a lot of cash on rides to even qualify for whirligig service. If you qualify, the rides are available either on-demand, or bookable up to five days ahead of time. Each helicopter has room for up to five passengers. In time the service will be available to anyone. The depths of service which technology has opened up is truly staggering.

Safety Is Always A concern

In the non asset world of transportation providers, we all depend upon equipment providers. Vetting these providers on behalf of our shippers is a primary responsibility. This is only one of the values of contracting with a 3Pl. A helicopter crashed this week in NYC which had previously dropped off passengers. The weather turned foggy over Manhattan that morning. Turns out the pilot did not have the required certificate that would have allowed him to legally fly when the visibility was less than 3 miles and where he could use the instruments on his chopper to guide him through the gloom and rain that enveloped the city. So the question here is who is vetting these helicopter pilots, weather private or for Uber. I question whether Uber, which is a mere child in the transportation industry at 7 years old, is schooled in the transportation vetting process which is necessary to provide safe cargo and personal conveyance in both inter and intra state transportation. It seems technology is setting such a pace that safety cannot keep up. Speed and convenience seems to have taken a back seat to safety.

How Much Risk Are You Willing To Take?

With the convenience of transactions comes risk. Sure you can hail a car, a helicopter, or who knows, even a boat to transport you or your loved ones. But how much do you know about who is picking up your precious cargo? It is also possible to hail a truck to transport your freight through Uber or several other apps...same question applies. Are you seriously going to trust your brand equity to some trucker you assume has been professionally vetted? While all of these conveniences have their acceptable levels of risk you must consider your options when the stakes are high. When you need a quick ride downtown or your late for the airport and want to take a helicopter ride that's your risk. But when you freight shipment is of high value or the client satisfaction is of great importance you need to consider everyone's risk. That's when you need to go with the experienced and proven freight transportation providers like Land Link Traffic Systems. We will provide the most reliable assets available and track the shipment throughout its journey. Satisfaction is guaranteed. Give us a call today for more information. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Topics: Transportation News, Industry Trends, Technology