hurricane supply chain kuebix

Preparing Your Supply Chains for Hurricane Season

If you live or work anywhere along the eastern seaboard of the United States, you know the panicked feeling when you hear on the news that a major hurricane is approaching. Even if you believe that the hurricane won’t hit your town, hurricanes are unpredictable by nature. Grocery stores run low on stock as people rush in to purchase as much water, food and emergency products to prepare for the damage as they can. So what happens to companies with freight to ship and customers to supply? Businesses in hurricane-prone areas and those that ship to those areas are at risk of lost revenue and major damage if they don’t take the proper precautions ahead of a storm.

How are Businesses Affected?

In the logistics industry, it is safe to say that every aspect of the business, especially transportation and shipping, is highly affected by a hurricane. Category 3, 4 and 5 hurricanes are catastrophic and can wipe out houses, buildings, and infrastructure like highways and local roads which are needed for shipping. Ports are especially affected since they are right on the coast where the majority of a hurricane’s power will break. Major flooding, debris and downed wires make it next to impossible for businesses to be able to move shipments in and out of certain areas that were affected.

When Category 4 Hurricane Florence hit the east coast on September 18, 2018, many roads and rail connections were affected which remained shut down even after the impact. This eventually resulted in a halt of shipments and deliveries being made on time, or at all. Grocery store shelves remained unstocked, bottled water was hard to come by and other necessary emergency products were only slowly supplied to those most in need of them.

Businesses in areas that are at risk of hurricanes must prepare in advance for the possibility of a natural disaster. This is the best way to fully recover from the impact and supply their customers during and immediately following the storm.

What Can Businesses Do to Prepare Their Supply Chains for a Hurricane?

With any business in the path of a hurricane, preparedness is key. Companies in the past have lost market share due to their lack of preparation and failure to completely recover after a natural disaster. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, about 40% of companies are not able to return back to normal operations following the impact of a disaster.

However, there are a number of ways that businesses can prepare for impact. A few ideas to protect your supply chain include:

  • • Identifying if you are in an area at-risk of dangerous weather impacts. While this may seem easy and obvious, many businesses surprisingly fail to keep that in mind when deciding on the best location to operate their business. Simply knowing that your business can be in danger of hurricanes is an easy gateway to finding the right tools to prepare and recover.
  • • Gaining complete visibility to your supply chain operations. If you have total visibility over your supply chain operations, your company will be best-positioned to react to a hurricane or other natural disaster. Knowing where your shipments are, being able to quickly rate and book with the best carriers and being able to track orders in real-time will give you an edge when a wrong decision can result in them never arriving. Companies can gain this level of visibility by implementing transportation management technology ahead of time.
  • • Have an insurance plan. Not only can insurance provide protection against loss, it can save a lot of money that would have to be paid to restore damages. Flood insurance may be a great option, or even a requirement, for businesses located in high-risk areas.
  • • Have reliable back-up partners. Having back-up partners can be very helpful because companies are able to move product via drop trailer to locations that are outside of harm’s way when a hurricane is approaching. There is a possibility that availability can be limited, so it’s crucial to have these conversations with your partners far in advance. Truckload spot markets like Kuebix Community Load Match give shippers an easy path to find and book reliable spot volume quickly.
  • • Learning from the past can prevent problems in the future. Data and analytics can help businesses keep track of their supply chain operations (how well or poorly they performed) during a storm. Being able to see what shipped, when, how long it took and for what cost helps businesses strategically plan for the next time a hurricane hits.

 What Happens in the Aftermath of a Storm?

In the case of extreme devastation, helping families and people in need is a top priority. While supply chain managers need to make sure their employees are all safe and well, they also need to work for a speedy recovery of their business. According to the Olin Business School, redundancy and operational flexibility are important processes of dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster.

Since these disasters are frequently unpredictable, it is better to be safe than sorry and have a back-up plan to conquer the difficulties that the disaster can cause. With hurricane season upon us, remember to stay informed of weather events, leverage technology to retain visibility to your supply chain and have back-up plans in place ahead of time. With these tools, your company will be able to weather the storm!

Amazon Prime Day 2019 - Kuebix

Amazon Prime Day 2019 – ‘Christmas in July’ for E-Commerce

Today marks the start of the fifth-annual Amazon Prime Day – a 48-hour marathon of discounts on a wide array of products offered exclusively to Amazon Prime members. Since the first installation of the unofficial holiday in 2015, Amazon has extended the event through products launched exclusively at the start of the sale and $10 to spend on Prime Day for any members who spend $10 at Whole Foods within a certain period beforehand.

2018 Amazon Prime Day sales are estimated to have hit $4.19 billion, increasing nearly 74% in comparison to 2017’s sales of $2.41 billion. With this year’s event scheduled to run for a full 48 hours in comparison to 2018’s lasting for 36 hours, sales are expected to continue to trend upward.

Participating in Amazon Prime Day

For brands utilizing the promotional frenzy, having a successful Amazon Prime Day is far more complicated than discounting a product and crossing their fingers. The first (and arguably most important) key to success is accepting and aligning yourself with the focus on Prime-eligible products. Most shoppers prefer and seek these products out, so shipping inventory to ‘FBA’ (fulfilled by Amazon) locations ahead of time is crucial. Preparing supply chains well ahead of time is necessary for many e-tailers to be successful during this important event. Brands are also encouraged to use Amazon’s discount coupons, a self-serve feature that can be set up by any vendor or seller on Amazon.

However, driving sales isn’t the only way to take advantage of Amazon Prime Day. Many brands use this day as an opportunity to increase awareness about what they have to offer and also test how their audience will receive products they are considering launching. Products that have consumers leaving rave reviews and purchasing backups make them all the more likely to remain popular once the sale is over. Consumers will also be more willing to try new products since a discounted price makes buyers more comfortable because there’s less financial risk attached with the possibility of disliking the product.

Competition

As the popularity and overall awareness about this event grows, more and more retailers are stepping up to the plate and offering their own discounts in an attempt to compete. RetailMeNot estimates that in 2019, 250 retailers will take part in the unofficial holiday by offering discounts of their own. This is a significant increase from 2018’s 194 retailers, which can be attributed to the steady incline of consumer engagement and timeline of the event.

Walmart is offering deals for a longer period of time than Amazon Prime Day in an attempt to compete, while Target is echoing the exact dates and placing a heavy emphasis on the fact that there’s no membership required to participate in their biggest summer sale.

It’s clear that whether you are a vendor, Prime member, or regular customer, opportunity is about to pour in from every direction. Gear up and get ready – ‘Christmas in July’ is officially upon us!

Prime Air Drones Kuebix

Amazon is Taking Prime to New Heights With Amazon Prime Air

With the extreme ease and convenience free 2-day shipping gives customers, Amazon is already changing the world. Many retail stores, such as Toys ‘R’ Us and Payless Shoe Source, have lost market share to Amazon, eventually leading to store closures. There is a very high demand for customers who want their packages delivered to them as soon as possible.

Now Amazon believes that they have found a new approach to provide even faster shipping – one that would allow customers to receive their packages within as little as 30 minutes! The concept of Amazon Prime Air was introduced to meet this need. Amazon Prime Air is an electric drone program that will drop small packages directly to customers’ doorsteps.

How Does Amazon Prime Air Work?

According to Amazon, safety is their priority. They wanted to ensure that the design of the drone would include stability and efficiency, so they created a hybrid design which would allow the drone to depart vertically and transition to airplane mode once in the air.

Amazon also claims that the drone is stable in windy conditions due to its six degrees of freedom, which Techopedia defines as “the specific number of axes that a rigid body is able to freely move in three-dimensional space.” The drone is able to fly up to 15 miles with an altitude of about 400 feet, using advanced sensors and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to navigate through static and moving objects that can interfere. The drone can only deliver shipments under 5 pounds, but this isn’t a problem for the e-commerce giant which claims that 75-90% of the items it sells meet these criteria. This makes a very fast and convenient delivery option for customers who need their shipments in a pinch!

How Will Prime Air Affect the Transportation Industry?

The transportation industry currently involves plenty of physical labor such as actually driving on the road and loading/unloading shipments. Cars and trucks in transit to ship products require money being paid for the gas, money to the drivers, and wear and tear on the vehicle. That doesn’t even include the risk of damage in cases of accidents! Technology within the Amazon Prime Air drones makes them completely reliable for safe delivery of shipments. Since the drones specifically handle smaller packages, trucks and cars are still needed for bigger shipments. However, this new technology would save a lot of time and money that could be wasted from empty backhauls or trucks traveling partially empty. The supply chain of products would be less costly, more efficient and customers’ growing expectations around the speed of delivery would be met. Drones are also more fuel efficient since they are electrically charged.

So What Happens Next?

It is no question that technology is advancing very rapidly. The market for drones will be worth an estimated $127 billion by the year 2020, meaning that many businesses may be in jeopardy if they don’t compete with Amazon’s fast delivery times. If customers are able to receive their shipments within half an hour by using Amazon Prime Air, it will likely be a major hit with consumers throughout the entire world! Amazon claims that the Prime Air program will launch before the end of 2019, so the transportation industry could go through a drastic change very soon. So next time you purchase an item from Amazon, there could be a drone showing up to your doorstep!

Hours of Service Changes Lessening - Kuebix

U.S. Department of Transportation Planning to Relax Hours of Service Rules

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is reportedly planning to relax what some consider to be restrictive hours of service (HoS) rules. These current HoS regulations were put into effect in July of 2013, roughly 6 years ago, and have been a heated topic of discussion ever since.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an agency of the Transportation Department, the current hours of service regulations for property-carrying drivers include:

  •      • 11-Hour Driving Limit – May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  •      • 14-Hour Limit – May not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.
  •      • Rest Breaks – May drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since end of driver’s last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes. Does not apply to drivers using either of the short-haul exceptions in 395.1(e). [49 CFR 397.5 mandatory “in attendance” time may be included in break if no other duties performed]
  •      • 60/70-Hour Limit – May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.

Though the specifics of the plan to relax the HoS regulations are still unknown, it’s anticipated that the 11-hour driving limit will be the initial change. The requirement for drivers to take a 30-minute break during an 8-hour shift, as well as the requirement for an uninterrupted 10 hour period between shifts, may also be changed.

Proponents of Lessening HoS Regulations

The Associated Press reported that “Interest groups that represent motor carriers and truck drivers have lobbied for revisions they say would make the rigid “hours of service” rules more flexible.” In the article, a truck driver by the name of Lucson Francois was required to pull over and rest for 10 hours a mere 5 minutes from his home in Pennsylvania. Groups like the American Trucking Associations (ATA) cite examples like this for why regulations on the trucking industry should be lessened.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) said members believe current HoS rules force them to be on the road when they are tired, during busy travel times, and in adverse weather or road conditions.

Opposition to Lessening HoS Regulations

On the opposite side of the debate are safety groups that emphasize highway and road safety. In a recent Large Truck Crash Causation Study conducted by the FMCSA, it was discovered that there were 4,657 large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2017, a startling 10% increase over 2016. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 automobile crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013. It’s widely believed that these numbers are underestimated, however, based on the difficulty of determining which accidents were fatigue related.

Groups like the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, an alliance of insurance companies and consumer, public health and safety groups, believe that the industry is putting revenue before the safety of those on the road. Stating that the current 11-hour shift maximum is already “exceedingly liberal in our estimation.”

The ELD Mandate

The deadline to comply with the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate in December 2017 made the HoS restrictions harder to flout. With trucking companies now required to monitor driving time electronically, there is no wiggle room for drivers like Francois to add 5 undocumented minutes to their driving time in order to reach their destination. Some groups see this as a positive, others see it as a negative.

No matter which side of the debate you fall on, a balance between safety and efficiency needs to be made for the industry to prosper. The industry is currently feeling a slight lessening of the driver shortage widely reported on in 2018, which may help regulators reach their decisions. In the meantime, it’s up to shippers and carriers to plan ahead as efficiently as possible so that their drivers don’t get stuck at the side of the road.

Red White and Brew - Kuebix 4th of July

Red, White, and BREW! – A Toast to America on the 4th of July

The Fourth of July is commonly celebrated with cookouts serving American favorites like grilled hamburgers and hotdogs accompanied by heaping portions of potato and pasta salad. While you’re surrounded by neighbors, close friends and family, you may find yourself raising a glass for a toast to freedom and the American dream. Whether your glass is filled with wine or beer, you have a rather complex supply chain to thank for your refreshment!

Each state (sometimes even each municipality or county) has its own regulations for shipping and selling alcoholic beverages. This complex web of rules stems from Prohibition in 1920, which banned alcohol under the 18th Amendment. When this ban was lifted and alcohol became legal again, the 21st Amendment (enacted in 1933) stated that states have the power to create and enforce their own set of laws regarding the production, distribution, and sale of alcohol.

Now, filling a cooler with an assortment of beverages is an American tradition that is widely practiced across all 50 states on Independence Day. It can be easy to overlook the complexity of how your different beers, wines, and assorted beverages made their way to your back yard.

In the United States, the supply chain for alcoholic beverages can be split into three sperate stages:

  • Production

Producers include wineries, breweries, distilleries, and multinational brand owners, basically any entity that manufacturers an alcoholic beverage.

  • Distribution

Wholesale distributors, or companies that are distributing alcohol to be sold for retail purchase, are required to have independent and clearly established operations in each state that they are selling in. They need to be certain they are following all local laws when distributing.

  • Retail

This refers to businesses such as liquor stores, convenience stores, or grocery stores. Establishments that serve alcohol for on-premises consumption, like restaurants and pubs, are also categorized as retailers. This is usually the only node of the supply chain consumers have visibility to.


Production of summer beers as well as beers and wines wrapped in red, white and blue packaging starts long before the summer season. Producers need to have some 18 million barrels of beer already distributed and ready for purchase in July alone. For the 4th of July, Americans spent an estimated $1 Billion+ on beer and $568 Million+ on wine! That’s a lot of raised glasses!

11 brewers are estimated to make over 90% of all U.S. beer, though some 3,400 local and craft breweries also do a good trade over the holiday. American-made beer remains the most popular in the United States, but beer originating in Mexico roughly equals the number of craft beers sold annually. The most popular beers drunk on the 4th of July in America include some familiar brands like Bud Light, Coors Light, Budweiser, and Miller Lite.

When consumers are enjoying patriotic themed or American-made beverages on the 4th of July, producers are preparing to distribute and supply retailers with autumnal drinks like pumpkin ales. July marks the end of the peak season for beer, meaning the busy season for suppliers is coming to an end. Beer sales dwindle to 17 million barrels in August before finally hitting 13.6 million per month by December.

Beyond the complexities associated with shipping any product themed specifically for a particular time of year, consumer preferences prove to be equally as problematic. Overstocking on a product that ends up not being well received by customers ties up capital and beverages can’t sit on a shelf forever. Companies manufacturing and distributing alcoholic beverages need to get their goods shipped quickly to ensure they have the best chance of selling. Equally as dangerous is being understocked and making a popular or newly successful product unavailable.

So when you’re enjoying the festivities on Independence Day this year, remember what went into getting your drinks to you. Happy 4th of July!

Kuebix TMS Half Year Predictions

2019 Transportation & Supply Chain Half Year Review – Where Are We Now?

At the end of 2018, we made some predictions about what 2019 would look like for the transportation and supply chain industries. With the half-year mark around the corner, it’s time to review those predictions and see which have proven to be accurate and which trends will continue to be important during the second half of 2019.

Prediction: Big changes—and a more holistic, organization-wide approach—to global supply chain strategies.

This trend continues to be true for many companies, especially those in the manufacturing industry. Companies are placing even more emphasis on their global supply chains to meaningfully impact their companies’ bottom lines. Ongoing tariff wars and the associated uncertainty/repercussions have meant that top-level executives are balancing their financials more carefully and managing risk from volatile markets. American companies importing raw materials, parts, or finished goods from China will face their newest hurdle on July 6, 2019, when a 25% tariff goes into effect on $34 billion of Chinese goods.

Prediction: More intense focus on data analytics in supply chains.

Data analytics continues to play a key role for supply chain professionals looking to examine, analyze and interpret data related to supplier risk, tariff risk, logistics costs or manufacturing costs. Being able to accurately analyze data and efficiently leverage the findings is an important investment for any growing business. According to Forbes contributor Yasaman Kazemi, “Data, as opposed to capital, is useless without the tools that allow organizations to order, understand, and gain deeper insights from it.” More companies are implementing advanced technology in their supply chains such as transportation management systems (TMS), warehouse management systems (WMS), and enterprise resource planning systems (ERP) to help manage an increase in data.

Prediction: China’s expanding global reach and economic power.

China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) investments in the Middle East and Africa and infrastructure investments in modes including rail lines, roads, ports, bridges and even schools are helping the country continue to outpace other countries’ economic expansion as they build long-term economic ties and trading partners. In the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest forecast it expects that China’s economy will grow by 6.3% in 2019, up 0.1% over its last prediction. Though this number is impressive, it was announced in May that this is the lowest China’s growth has been in 17 years. Contributing to this slow-down are the continuing trade wars and ongoing concerns about intellectual property rights violations. China has remained unsuccessful in the intensifying negotiations to repeal the ban on Huawei, the world’s largest telecom supplier and second largest phone manufacturer. With a lifting of these bans in the United States, China would be able to gain market presence in an important industry they have dominated in other countries around the world.

Prediction: “King Consumer” and ever-faster delivery of e-commerce orders.

This particular trend has been all over headlines throughout the first half of 2019. The most important announcement came in April with Amazon’s announcement that they will be transitioning from a 2-day shipping guarantee for their Prime members to a 1-day shipping guarantee. This is a lofty goal, but one most consumers will willingly benefit from, steadily driving shoppers away from Amazon’s competition. In a bid to keep pace with Amazon’s exceptional service, Wal-Mart has announced that they will begin an unlimited grocery delivery program that will have couriers physically entering customers’ homes to deliver their groceries. Both Wal-Mart and Target have made moves to bolster their same-day and 1-day delivery programs.

Prediction: Intensified technological disruption and innovation.

As we approach the end of the second quarter of 2019, transportation companies are becoming more accustomed to new technology like the federally mandated requirement to have ELDs equipped in trucks. Some carriers and companies with private fleets are even beginning to leverage technologies like virtual reality to ease the cost and time expenditures associated with training drivers to get their CDLs. Other companies are installing RFID tags and other tracking software on pallets or even individual goods to improve their supply chain visibility. USPS and other delivery companies have begun trial runs with autonomous trucks, still, others have begun investing in electric vehicles and even drone technology. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), the Internet of Things (IoT) and the sharing economy continue to make headlines for the supply chain industry and we don’t expect this trend to slow down any time soon.


The first half of 2019 has progressed much as anticipated, though not always in the specific ways we expect. Technology that couldn’t have been dreamed of 20 years ago has continued to play an important role for transportation and supply chain companies. New trials, beta technologies, and promises to consumers for 2020 are well underway. Moreover, the global conversation about trade, especially with China, continues to be front and center. Shippers, suppliers, carriers, and every other supply chain stakeholder are looking for new and more efficient ways to conduct their businesses. Whether that’s by leveraging data analytics, the IoT, or a revolutionary fleet of vehicles, there will surely be many exciting trends to look forward to as the second half of 2019 begins.

One way companies can find efficiencies for their supply chains in the face of these trends is to leverage Kuebix Community Load Match, a truckload spot market within Kuebix TMS that connects shippers with a vast ecosystem of truckload carriers.

blockchain kuebix

Blockchain and Cloud-based Platforms Usher In New Era of Complex Data Streams in Freight Shipping

Blockchain and cloud-based platforms are revolutionizing the way logistics operations are being conducted around the world. Big Data has been a hot topic in the industry for years, but the way to truly harness it has remained out of reach for many companies. Blockchain technologies and cloud-based platforms are changing the narrative. Now, complex data streams from logistics operations are being funneled through these technologies to make shipping freight more efficient as supply chains continue to become more complex.

What is Blockchain?

According to Merriam-Webster, blockchain is “a digital database containing information (such as records of financial transactions) that can be simultaneously used and shared within a large decentralized, publicly accessible network.”

In layman’s terms, blockchain is a technology that lets companies track and initiate an action based on a digital or physical event. For example, blockchain technology can help trace contaminated food products when there has been a safety recall. Blockchain technologies act as a single source of truth that can be referred back to at any time, much like a ledger for every interaction. Here are 30+ Real Examples of Blockchain Technology In Practice from Forbes.

What are Cloud-based Platforms in the Supply Chain?

Cloud-based platforms in the supply chain are also streamlining Big Data repositories and making them actionable and transparent. Platforms such as cloud-based enterprise management systems (ERP), transportation management systems (TMS), and warehouse management systems (WMS) can track and trace the lifecycle of a product from initial order all the way through customer returns. When these systems integrate and combine with external tracking devices, they can have the same benefits as blockchain as a service (BaaS) technologies, only in a more accessible form.

ELDs, RFIDs, GPS, Sensors and Gate Check Technologies

Tracking technology is becoming more prevalent as costs associated with implementation lessen. Blockchain and cloud-based platforms consolidate all of the data generated by devices like ELDs, RFIDs, GPS, Sensors and Gate Check technologies into actionable reports and dashboards. Actions can even be predetermined to initiate when a physical or digital event type occurs. Now, companies can retain real-time visibility to their pallets, trucks, drivers, and even individual products no matter where they are in the supply chain.

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review describes how blockchain and platforms will transform logistics. “Data created by sensors, ERP systems, inventory palettes, and shipping events can automatically add records to the blockchain, which can launch cascading events farther along the value chain.” Being able to see the moment when a container leaves the port and being able to track individual products from that container to customers is a level of visibility that hasn’t been available before.

Why do Supply Chains Need These Types of Technology?

Our world is shrinking, metaphorically. Globalization has made it commonplace for an end product to contain materials from all over the world. When you buy an iPhone, you may actually be buying an accelerometer from Germany, a battery from China, a camera from Japan, a Gyroscope from Switzerland and a glass screen for the United States. Being able to track and initiate actions based on completed events such as when a shipment of batteries has left the port in Shanghai speeds up the supply chain and mitigates risk.

Customer expectations around visibility and speed are also increasing, almost exponentially. 15 years ago, it may have been acceptable to receive an order purchased online in 3 – 4 weeks. Now, consumers are demanding their products in as few as 2 days, with 1-day shipping and even 1-hour shipping already on many retailers’ minds. Amazon’s 1-day delivery promise to their Prime members has added pressure to companies just now becoming used to faster shipping times. With blockchain or a cloud-based, data-centralizing platform, companies can initiate actions to keep their supply chains moving without waiting for a physical paper trail to catch up.

According to FedEx business fellow and blockchain strategist, Dale Chrystie:

“Twenty year ago, you put the word ‘internet’ in front of everything and now you don’t. Today, we’re putting the word ‘blockchain’ in front of everything and I don’t think we’re going to in the future; it’s just going to be the way it works.”

Big Data has proved lucrative to those companies who have been able to harness it to understand their customers and streamline their logistics operations. New blockchain technologies and cloud-based platforms are providing this opportunity to companies worldwide, but the changing market structure may appear too complex for some. Companies that adapt quickly will find that they gain a competitive advantage over those companies that do not leverage technology in their freight shipping.

 

Circular Supply Chain Kuebix

Why Circular Supply Chains Will Replace Linear Supply Chains in the 2020’s

Since humans began making and distributing products to one another, the structure of the supply chain has remained predominantly untouched. Raw materials flow in, are changed into a product and are then distributed and used until finally they are thrown away. This linear chain has been sufficient to keep economies churning, but a new, more profitable supply chain methodology is gaining in popularity: the circular supply chain.

The circular supply chain is a model that encourages manufacturers and sellers of products to take discarded materials and remake them for resale. The traditional model of “take, make, and throw away” is an economic dead-end and is costing businesses as they struggle with raw material costs and volatility. Instead of producing one-time-use products, companies are refurbishing used parts or melting down products to turn back into their raw material form.

Instead of a linear “in and out” methodology, businesses are increasingly opting to loop their supply chains to cut down on costs and create less waste. Contrary to popular belief, this process is actually more economical in the long run for companies. It’s the initial investment process changes that cause many to ignore opportunities to reuse materials. Once processes are in place, companies spend less money on raw materials, help the environment (which can result in government incentives), are at less risk of price volatility, and, perhaps most important of all, please their customers.

Circular Supply Chain Infographic Kuebix

Here are some of the reasons why circular supply chains will replace linear supply chains in the 2020’s:

Save Money and Grow Business Value

The circular supply chain, at first glance, appears to predominantly be a methodology for companies to reduce environmental impact, but it’s much more than that. By reusing parts and materials, companies can get the maximum benefit out of the raw materials they purchase. Instead of throwing products away at the end of their lifecycle, they can be turned back into profit with lower costs than making a new product from scratch. Throwing away products wastes the investment companies have already poured into the product (labor, materials, and energy). It simply costs less to refurbish or recycle materials into new goods. By connecting the end of the linear supply chain with the beginning, companies can save money by reducing the overall cost of producing their products.

Societal Benefits of the Circular Economy

Going green remains a hot topic in just about every industry. The EPA reported that Americans produced 262.43 million tons of trash in 2015. That’s up by about 3.5 million tons compared to 2014 and 54.1 million tons since 1990. As consumers create more and more waste each year, it’s up to both businesses and individual consumers to choose products that have small environmental footprints.

Consumers are increasingly conscious of their shopping decisions. According to a report by Nielsen, 66% of global consumers say they’re willing to pay more for sustainable brands. A full 73% of millennial shoppers (those born between 1977 – 1995) are willing to pay more for sustainable goods over traditional ones. Companies that want to stay relevant and grow market share need to be catering to a public that is increasingly conscious of their environmental impact.

Recycling and Reusing Protects Against Price Volatility

Raw material prices are constantly a struggle for many companies trying to plan their budgets and keep total costs of goods under control. Many categories of virgin materials are constantly shifting in price, especially metals which have seen more volatility recently than any decade in the 20th century. By anticipating the amount of reused and recycled materials that can be used in the production of new goods, companies can more accurately gauge their expenditures and keep costs under control.

Circular Supply Chains Help Companies Meet Regulation Standards

Many government regulations are pushing businesses to adopt the circular supply chain by creating laws and regulations around recycling and waste disposal. Others are offering incentives to companies that make active efforts to “go green,” no matter whether their end goal is to reduce environmental impact of simply boost their bottom lines.

These are some examples of laws around the world that are now in place:

•    EU Packaging Directive – requires all countries in the EU to recycle 50% of their packaging waste.

•    Japanese Recycling Laws – require businesses to recycle packaging materials into something reusable.

•    California Recycled Content Laws – no plastic bags, 25% of all plastic containers must be recycled, and more.

•    UK Landfill Directive – all UK-based companies must recycle or treat their waste products, regardless of their size and turnover.

Circular Supply Chain Success Stories

Nike’s “Reuse-A-Shoe” program and Adidas’s partnership with Parley for the Oceans are demonstrating the power of the circular supply chain. Nike encourages customers to recycle their old shoes at local Nike sellers. Those old shoes are then turned into Nike “grind material” and transformed back into new shoes for sale. Not only does this keep old shoes out of landfills, it helps boost Nike’s image and saves them on material costs.

Adidas is perhaps even more famous for its circular supply chain project. They have pledged to make 11 million sneakers out of recycled plastics pulled from the ocean. They have already seen tremendous success with their recycled line of shoes and are on track to make $1 billion helping solve the problem of ocean plastic.

One company that began using the circular supply chain model even before the term was coined is Renault, a French vehicle manufacturer located outside of Paris. In 1949, the company was looking for ways to recover from the devastating effects of WWII. They began offering used vehicle parts at discounts between 30 – 50%, but with the same warranties and guarantees as new parts. Their goal was entirely to drive profits and create a business that could flourish in an economy low on raw materials. Today, that same plant outside of Paris generates annual revenue of roughly $270 million! Now, it even designs its major vehicle components to be easy to disassemble for even more profitability.

The Circular Supply Chain is the Future

If you’ve ever heard the quote, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” you can understand the concept of the circular supply chain. Circular supply chains turn waste into opportunities as regulations on recycling and proper disposal of manufacturing byproducts become tighter. Often byproducts can be reclaimed and re-used within the manufacturing process where companies can develop new revenue sources for products that were previously discarded. Companies looking to stay profitable in the 2020’s will be looking for ways to reduce their costs and please their customers. Adopting the circular supply chain methodology, therefore, just makes sense.

There are many ways to reduce the environmental impact of shipping freight, if you’re interested in learning more, click here to see how Kuebix helps shippers reduce theirs.

kuebix shipping containers homes

How Shipping Containers are Helping the Homeless

When most people think of shipping containers, they think of exactly what’s in the name: shipping. Formally known as an integral part of virtually any product moving across a supply chain, shipping containers keep products safe from external forces like weather and theft. However, recent advancements have been made to use shipping containers to solve an ongoing issue unrelated to their conventional use.

In Cardiff, Wales, shipping containers are being transformed into homes. It may sound questionable, but shipping container homes have proven to be a cost-effective solution to the ever-present struggle of providing proper housing to people in need. The new homes are also easy to relocate whether it’s an individual unit or an entire group. Cardiff Council paid for thirteen containers featuring amenities such as solar panels and sprinkler systems.

shipping container homes cardiff

The project consists of two different variations of shipping container homes to meet the needs of a variety of household sizes. Seven of the thirteen homes are going to be two-bedroom homes made of a 40 foot and a 20 foot container, while the remaining six one-bedroom homes will be comprised of a singular 40 foot container. The two-bedroom homes are geared towards homeless families with children and will all have direct access to a fenced garden so that the children have a proper, safe place to play. One-bedroom homes will feature a roof terrace and a front door.

Perhaps the most notable features of the new designs are their energy efficient operations and ability to transport with ease to meet demand. If there are certain areas that begin to develop a higher volume of people in need of temporary housing solutions, moving the containers will save time and money in comparison to building new housing solutions.

Communities consisting of shipping container homes are already up and running in Merthyr Tydfil and Wrexham. Shipping containers are already used internationally, so it will be interesting to see if this new take on providing temporary housing will extend beyond the United Kingdom if it is met with success.

Is it Time To Upgrade to A Cloud-Based Transportation Management System

Is it Time To Upgrade to A Cloud-Based Transportation Management System (TMS)?

Many companies are still using the transportation management system (TMS) they installed 15 or even 20 years ago! Technology has changed and improved significantly over that time. So if you’re still using an outdated TMS to manage your logistics operation, it’s time to upgrade to a modern, cloud-based system.

Why Should I Replace My Old TMS?

The old mantra “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t work when it comes to technology. Just because a system is functioning doesn’t mean that there aren’t more and better features to improve your shipping operations. A horse and cart are likely faster than walking up the road, but that doesn’t mean a car isn’t the better option to get to your destination efficiently. The same is true when it comes to technology, without exploring all the options, you may be missing out on valuable features.

Legacy TMS systems often don’t provide the transparency and visibility you need to monitor shipments, optimize routes, lower costs and improve efficiencies. What sufficed for customers in the past probably doesn’t cut it with your current customers. Customers have become accustomed to Amazon-like delivery options and visibility to their orders. It’s up to you to meet these heightened customer expectations with technology.

With legacy transportation management systems, there’s no way to tell if a delivery is going to be late so you can warn your customers. You don’t have the ability to collaborate in real time with your carriers and onboarding new carriers is a hassle. Your old TMS is simply not keeping up with consumers’ changing expectations and the increasing demands of the modern supply chain. A modern, cloud-based TMS can help.

How Can I Improve My Transportation Operations with Technology?

Upgrading an older system is rarely an option. To compete in the modern supply chain where visibility and flexibility are key, you need to implement a cloud-based TMS. A cloud-based TMS offers faster start-up, lower usage costs, greater flexibility and rapid return-on-investment (ROI). Lower maintenance and support costs are a big plus, too. With a cloud-based TMS, any size business is given a fair chance at competing with larger companies because of low start-up costs and easier upkeep.

Modern transportation management systems can do a whole lot more than they used to.

Scalability is something that most legacy, on-premise TMS solutions do not offer because of their rigid infrastructure. With scalability available in newer TMSs, you are able to add new features and functionality to your system without starting from scratch. Your TMS should be flexible to grow as your business grows. Start with just rating, booking, scheduling and tracking, then add modular features like freight bill pay and audit, ERP integrations, order consolidation, route optimization, and collaboration portals as needed to help you customize the technology to best fit your needs.

Complete supply chain visibility is another feature which only new, cloud-based TMSs can offer. From the loading dock to the final mile, a TMS should track and trace orders down to the SKU level, giving visibility to what is on each truck, how many items there are and where the truck is. A TMS should help you answer questions like whether the truck is delayed and if there are items missing from the order.

Most legacy TMSs do not integrate well with other systems. Today’s cloud-based transportation management systems have the ability to easily connect and share with customers, suppliers and carriers, on any device, wherever the stakeholder is. New systems integrate purchase orders directly from any ERP system to facilitate the rapid creation of shipments, avoiding the need to re-enter the order, which can lead to errors and increased admin time. Retailers with their own e-commerce engine should be able to connect directly to the TMS by using open APIs, adding shipment tracking and the ability to rate, book and schedule deliveries.

Your TMS Should Connect You To a Vast Network

If your TMS is not cloud-based, will not integrate with other systems and cannot provide end-to-end visibility, along with flexibility and scalability to easily add additional features, then it is time for a change. Not only that, your modern TMS should be connecting you with a vast network of carriers, suppliers, freight marketplaces, brokers, and 3PLs to streamline your operations. Being able to manage all of your shipping functions within a single system is essential. With a cloud-based transportation management system like Kuebix TMS, all of this is possible.

Become a Kuebix Free Shipper to see how a modern TMS can improve your transportation operations today!

CDL License Training Students

New Programs Encourage Students to Pursue CDL License

The truck driver shortage remains top of mind for many throughout America. To combat this perceived shortage, schools are hoping to equip their students for bright futures in a booming industry. They hope to encourage students to follow a career path within logistics by providing classes that walk them through the process of getting their commercial driver’s license (CDL). With the help of these programs, the trucking industry will be able to welcome a new generation of younger drivers looking for long-term work.

Elgin Community College Truck Driving Program

Located in Illinois, Elgin Community College has set out to educate their students on the well paying, steady jobs available to truck drivers and how to join the field. The program requires 320 hours of classroom and road times to teach students all of the information and skills they need to get their CDL.

The school is laying the groundwork for an appropriate foundation of knowledge and experience that will set students up for a more successful future. Those who participate in the program also get a direct line of connection to professionals willing to help them drive and talk to them about their experience in the industry.

Truck Driving Program in Central Minnesota

Concerns about filling what is projected to be just over 4,000 job openings in the trucking industry led to just over a half-dozen local businesses teaming up with Ridgewater College, the Willmar School District and Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District to create and provide a class to help students obtain a CDL and fill one of the many available jobs upon graduation.

This new program is only available to 18-year-old students. At the end of the program, students will have taken “a classroom course, taken the written CDL permit test, obtained a required physical, gained experience driving a semi in a simulator lab and spent nearly 40 hours of behind-the-wheel training in an actual semi with an industry pro serving as a mentor.” All of this experience comes together to ensure that the student has received a well-rounded education on the job at hand, allowing them to help companies as well as launch their own career.

Guilford Technical Community College’s Truck Driving Program

Based in North Carolina, Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC) has announced its intent to start a truck driving school on their Cameron Campus in Colfax. Faculty are anticipating a lot of interest in the program from students. With many drivers aging out, companies in the area find themselves constantly looking for drivers.

Guilford County hopes that the program will spark interest within the field, as logistics and transportation are a significant chunk of their businesses as well as the surrounding area. The school is hoping to shed light on the fact that the transportation industry is “one of the most profitable career paths available for students.”

In beginning these programs, schools are solving several issues at hand. They are filling the growing number of open positions within the industry while also helping students launch their long-term careers in logistics immediately upon graduation.

Kuebix Shipping Community

Shipper Adoption is the Key to a Successful Shipping Community [Infographic]

How Can Shipping Communities Gain Shipper Adoption?

For a shipping community to be successful it needs to be built upon a transportation management system (TMS). Shippers want to conduct all of their business through a single, connected platform. When they leverage a robust TMS to manage their logistics operations, they can rate, book, and track all of their shipments for every mode through a single window. When they are looking for additional capacity to supplement their negotiated rates, it makes sense that they’d want to use their main source of transportation management to find that capacity.

A TMS is the natural place to house a spot market where shippers can easily get spot quotes for their freight. That’s because users automatically form the basis of the shipping community that will use the spot market. When the shipper can’t get their freight covered as they need with a negotiated rate, they can seamlessly pivot to a built-in spot market where community members can collaborate to find efficiencies. Unlike a disconnected freight marketplace outside of their normal processes, their TMS joins disparate marketplaces, brokers, carriers, and fleets to make it easy for shippers to find additional capacity through the network.

 

Not Just Any TMS Will Do, Though.

Most transportation management systems aren’t designed to have a successful community built upon them. For a start, the TMS needs to be capable of handling its users’ every need. That means every mode needs to be covered by the platform and the TMS must integrate directly with any ERP system. Reporting and tracking functionality are also important along with many other features lower-level TMSs simply can’t provide. Simply put, the TMS must be built for small and enterprise sized customers and everyone in between. Features that can be modularly added as the company’s needs change also increase usership since shippers only pay for what they use. Users must to be able to complete all of their logistics operations inside the TMS to keep them engaged with the system and using it routinely.

On the other hand, the TMS needs to be accessible by the masses. Many small businesses can benefit from streamlining their operations with the help of technology. By offering both free and affordable subscription versions of the software, the TMS can rapidly gain more usership by tapping into a segment of shippers in the industry that would otherwise never be able to be connected to collaboration opportunities. When more users join the network, every other user benefits. This is known as the “Network Effect,” a phenomenon where each additional user of a tool increases the value of the tool for every other user.

Kuebix Community Load Match

Kuebix Community Load Match is the spot market built upon Kuebix TMS that any member of Kuebix’s shipping community can take advantage of and is just one of the benefits members receive by belonging to the network. This spot market connects shippers with available truckload capacity without making them leave the system. With Community Load Match, every shipper can discover additional savings on truckload freight by connecting with Kuebix’s vast ecosystem of dedicated truckload carriers.

Currently, Kuebix has over 16,000 companies using the TMS. This group is made up of companies of all sizes, some using Kuebix Free Shipper, some Business Pro users and some Enterprise users with extensive logistics operations. No matter what type of account a user has, however, they are part of Kuebix’s shipping community and can leverage Community Load Match. This makes Kuebix an ideal partner for carriers, brokers, fleet owners, and other freight marketplaces to expose their capacity through.

As the community grows, more opportunities are created and even more shippers and companies with capacity join the network! This is why shipper adoption is the key to growing and maintaining a successful shipping community.

USPS Is Testing Self-Driving Trucks With TuSimple Autonomous Technology Kuebix

USPS Is Testing Self-Driving Trucks With TuSimple Autonomous Technology

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has awarded autonomous-truck creator, TuSimple, a contract to conduct a 2-week pilot program of self-driving trucks starting on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. The self-driving truck startup reached “unicorn status” earlier this year with a $1 billion valuation.

This trial run will transport mail more than 1,000 miles each way between Phoenix and Dallas over the two week period and be used to gauge the affect self-driving trucks could have on delivery times and operational costs for the mail service. TuSimple will complete five round-trips, hauling USPS trailers from a distribution center in Phoenix to another in Dallas.

Each autonomous shipment will be accompanied by a safety engineer to ensure nothing goes wrong during the journey. TuSimple’s self-driving trucks are ranked as Level 4 autonomous, which means that they are capable of operating without the need for a human driver or monitor in certain conditions. Safety engineers will only be present during test runs and are not expected to be needed long term.

During the USPS pilot, the TuSimple trucks will autonomously navigate I-10, the southernmost cross-country interstate highway in the American Interstate Highway System. The I-10 is one of the busiest highways in the country and roughly 60% of all U.S. economic activity touches its pavement at some point.

TuSimple vehicles will also traverse the I-10 in the USPS pilot, indicating that road conditions are suitable for Level 4 autonomy. 60% of U.S. economic activity touches I-10 at some point, according to TuSimple’s press release announcing the contract. In addition to good operating conditions, the length of the route along with on OTD pressures makes it an ideal candidate for self-driving trucks to replace traditional, human-operated ones where drivers work in teams to relay shipments, often working overnights. These factors make it the ideal testing grounds for a long-haul pilot program.

“It is exciting to think that before many people will ride in a robo-taxi, their mail and packages may be carried in a self-driving truck,” said Xiaodi Hou, the founder, president and CTO of TuSimple.

TuSimple’s announcement comes after stalling news about autonomous trucks throughout the industry. Self-driving vehicle creators must battle challenges from regulations to different weather conditions nationwide before they can hope to begin selling to the public or government. TuSimple’s new contract with USPS to conduct a two-week pilot is seen as the next step in the process of making autonomous delivery a reality in the United States.

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How Virtual Reality is Transforming the Trucking Industry

Virtual reality (VR) is most commonly known for its recreational use in video games. However, the advanced application of technology is beginning to gain traction and be recognized for its improvement of training programs in a multitude of industries. Forbes Magazine reported that VR-based training programs can reduce the amount of time it takes to train a new hire by 40% and improve that employee’s performance by 70% in comparison to a traditionally trained new hire. Through the incorporation of programs involving VR, companies can cut costs and improve performance at the same time.

Virtual Reality in Trucking

The trucking industry is no exception to this steadily rising trend. UPS has estimated that by the end of 2018, they will have put 4,000 new package delivery van drivers through a training program that involves virtual reality.

With VR-based training programs, new hires have the ability to train for their new position as a driver without incurring costs related to insurance, gas, maintenance, or repairs. Traditional methods of training require either physical experience on the roads or watching videos of other people explaining the dos and don’ts of vehicle operation. While physical experience can be costly and tutorial-like videos can be disengaging, virtual reality eliminates both of these concerns and promotes a hands-on, remote method of training.

Companies who implement virtual reality into their standard training methods are also finding that it reduces the risk associated with traditional approaches. Potential accidents or vehicle damage that may happen during the training process are both costly and dangerous. Through VR-based training programs these two scenarios are avoided. In fact, programs can actually give new hires a chance to repeat dangerous situations that are rare and often times turn out to be costly. If the driver ends up in that situation or a similar one later down the line, they will be better equipped and feel more prepared for how to handle it.

According to a report by the American Trucking Associations, approximately 90,000 truck drivers need to be replaced each year for the next decade to combat the truck driver shortage the industry is experiencing throughout America. VR-based training programs teach new drivers quicker than traditional methods, getting them out on the roads faster while still being just as effective.

Not including the cost of accidents, traditional styles of training for truck driving can cost up to $7,000. Despite the growing need for more drivers in the industry, many companies cannot afford such a steep price. Companies adopting VR-based training are experiencing lower costs as well as better quality training programs that are finished in less time. Although it requires an initial investment, VR-based training programs are rapidly gaining traction in the trucking industry.