kuebix 10 reasons to get a tms

10 Reasons Every Shipper Should Get a Transportation Management System (TMS)

Transportation management systems (TMS) are becoming more widely adopted throughout the industry as these systems become cheaper (or free like Kuebix Free Shipper) and easier to use and implement. But some companies are still on the fence about whether to manage their logistics operations the old-fashioned way with phone calls and spreadsheets or to leverage technology to help streamline the process.

According to Bart De Muynck, Gartner’s research vice president, transportation technology, “Last year was a great year for TMS. In fact, in 2018 we saw investments go up across the entire supply chain technology spectrum.”¹

Companies are implementing TMSs at record numbers to achieve many different benefits. Here are 10 ways getting a TMS can help your business:

Everything in one place

By using a TMS, companies can manage their entire transportation operations all from a single place. This means they can rate, book, track and interact with their orders no matter whether they’re full truckload, LTL, parcel, air, intermodal or ocean. It also means that they don’t need to bounce between different carrier websites to rate shop.

Lower freight costs

Transportation management systems almost always help to lower overall freight costs for companies. By being able to rate shop within a single screen, logistics professionals can choose the least expensive option at the service type they need every time. It also means that companies have easier access to more carriers, creating beneficial competition and providing more options.

Reduce manual entry

With a TMS, especially one that is integrated with an ERP or ordering system, manual entry is greatly reduced. Information like PRO numbers, pallet weights, and destinations can be automatically populated to reduce human error. And instead of making notes on stickies or disjointed spreadsheets, all the order and route information is in one place, meaning reliable information can be transferred between stakeholders.

Optimize routing and load consolidation

With many TMS systems, you can build more efficient loads and routes with the help of an optimizer. Optimization tools allow the user to specify different parameters for the load and then suggest or even build the optimal load and route for easy tendering. Users can even view the route on a map to have a visual of where the order is planned so that they can make changes as necessary.

Get meaningful analytics

Since all of a company’s logistics information will pass through the TMS, that data can be transformed into actionable reports and dashboards. With a TMS companies can see freight cost per item right down to the SKU level to make strategic changes that impact their bottom line. They can also see things like carrier KPIs, real-time tracking data and vendor scorecards. These reports and dashboards help logistics professionals stay on top of key metrics affecting their company’s profits.

Gain visibility

With real-time tracking and analytics, you can provide your customers with the visibility to their orders that they expect. You can even add features like Dock Scheduler, RFID and ELD integrations, and Gate Check to make it easy to tell exactly where each truck is on the route.

Make paperwork easier

Transportation management systems make the little paperwork that is still necessary way easier. BOLs, PODs and other paperwork can be printed directly out of the system to make processing easy, efficient, and most importantly correct every time. This not only puts time back into the day, but it also speeds up pickup/drop-off times when drivers have accurate information with them.

Scalability

With a TMS, a company is free to grow or change their business without having to worry about how they will handle their transportation operations. When new facilities or more products are added to the business, the TMS will scale right along-side it. TMSs with modular features offer companies extra customizability. For example, if the company begins to sell products online, they can add an e-commerce integration to improve shipping options for their customers.

Meet rising customer expectations

Speaking of e-commerce, the growth in popularity of online shopping is changing customer expectations and making shipping more difficult for supply chains. Companies need to get orders to their destinations faster, cheaper, and with complete visibility. With a TMS, all three of these things are made possible and companies can provide exceptional customer service while meeting rising customer expectations.

Integrate external processes

Another benefit many companies take advantage of once they implement a TMS is to integrate it with their other systems. As mentioned above, some choose to integrate with their e-commerce platforms or their ERP and ordering systems. These and other integrations help to smooth processes across different teams and departments to help keep the flow of information clean and consistent, not to mention speed up the entire operation and improve overall visibility.

All-in-all, there are plenty of reasons a company should consider implementing a TMS to manage its transportation operations. These span from cost to time savings and improve data accuracy and visibility. As put by Logistics Management in their 2019 Transportation Management Systems (TMS) Market Update, “As the true workhorses of the supply chain management software cluster, transportation management systems (TMS) have become the “must have” for companies that—working under the pressures of e-commerce and omni-channel—need to move beyond clipboards, spreadsheets, and phone calls to manage their increasingly sophisticated transportation networks.”

¹Logistics Management Magazine

valentines day chocolate supply chain

Chocolate and the Supply Chain

Valentine’s Day and chocolate go hand in hand for much of the western world. Americans alone consume 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate each year! This means that the supply chain needs to work hard to keep up with the demand. The chocolate supply chain isn’t as palatable as the tasty treat, however. It’s riddled with issues that span from fair trade concerns to sustainable harvesting practices. Once it reaches the continent it will be sold on, supply chains battle with temperature control and getting the final products onto store shelves before major holidays like Valentine’s Day.

chocolate infographic

A Brief History

Chocolate has been consumed by humans dating back as far as 1900 BC, and the practice isn’t likely to end any time soon. The Olmecs (modern Mexico) were the first to start using ground cocoa seeds for consumption. In fact, most of the Mesoamerican people used cocoa to make chocolate beverages. The English word for chocolate is derived from the Classical Nahuatl word “chocolātl”.

Fair Trade Initiatives

Thousands of years later, consumers like their chocolate in a myriad of forms. Whether it’s hot, cold, mixed into a dessert, or in bar form, chocolate is almost universally loved. It’s tragic, therefore that some supply chain practices aren’t as ethical as others. There are growing concerns about the treatment of laborers in countries like Côte d’Ivoire, where roughly 43% of the world’s cocoa is harvested.

New fair trade and sustainability initiatives began to gain support in the 2000s as many chocolate producers seek to address concerns about the marginalization of cocoa laborers in developing nations. International producers like Hershey have put out commitments to source 100% Certified and Sustainable Cocoa by 2020. Other companies like Aldi, a German discount supermarket chain, are using more fair trade cocoa in their assortment of products.

Manufacturing Process

Once the cocoa beans have been harvested, they’re transported by ship to the continent they will be produced and sold on. The cocoa beans are sifted for foreign materials, roasted in large rotating ovens, and cracked open. Once the shells are blown away, all that’s left are crushed and broken pieces of cocoa beans which are called “nibs.” These bits can be found in specialty chocolate shops and are ready for consumption, though quite bitter.

The cocoa nibs are then ground into a thick paste known as chocolate liquor, though they don’t contain any alcohol. Cocoa butter is either removed at this point to produce cocoa powder or other ingredients like milk and sugar are added to improve the flavor of the end product. The chocolate is rolled through a series of mixers at this point to achieve the smooth, silky texture associated with chocolate, otherwise you’d be left with a grainy texture in your mouth. From here, the chocolate is tempered with heat and put into molds before being packed and prepared for shipment!

Final Mile

Transporting the final product to the end consumer is a challenge for supply chain professionals. In order for chocolates to retain their shape, they need to be in temperature controlled areas at all times. This means reefer units and quick load and unload times at every dock. Leaving chocolates idling in the yard can ruin the entire shipment.

Since the supply chain is so long and usually involves international harvesting, the time between initial order to final sale can span months. Valentine’s Day chocolates may have been originally purchased by a retailer’s procurement department about the time Halloween candy hit store shelves. The nature of specialized product makes the time constraints even more difficult. If chocolates are even a few days late, they could miss their designated holiday and need to be sold at a reduced price.

No matter where you get your chocolate from, it undoubtedly has a long history of where it came from and how it finally arrived in your hands. It’s important to understand how the supply chain plays a role in getting everyday objects many take for granted to their end destination.

Trucking in America *Infographic*

The job of a truck driver in America is crucial. Trucking is the backbone of our economy and just about every industry would collapse without it. In fact, 71% of all freight tonnage moves on trucks in the USA. That means everything from food to medicine to building materials at one point probably rode on a truck.

There are 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the US right now and there are another 5.2 million people who hold positions in the industry that support drivers. These positions include logistics managers, routers, schedulers and various other office or warehouse positions. Together, all of these people work to get products onto trucks and delivered to the end customer.

There’s a major problem, however. There aren’t enough truck drivers and this driver shortage is only expected to worsen. The average age of a truck driver in the states is 55 years old. That means there are many who are swiftly approaching retirement age and leaving the workforce. This wouldn’t be a problem if younger generations were taking up the mantle and backfilling vacant positions left by Baby Boomers as they retire. Millennials and Gen Xers aren’t filling these newly vacant positions, however.

In just 7 short years, the American Trucking Associations estimates that we will be short more than 175,000 drivers. This will put renewed pressure on an industry that is already strapped for drivers. It will be up to carriers to entice new labor out of the workforce by offering training programs and opportunities for advancement. Other technological advancements like truck platooning and autonomous vehicles could help to alleviate some of the pressure.

Another useful technology to leverage is Kuebix’s Community Load Match, a solution that facilitates collaboration between shippers and carriers. With Community Load Match, shippers can easily request and receive rates from a rapidly growing carrier community from Trimble’s network of 1.3 million commercial trucks and Kuebix’s community of more than 20,000 shippers. Shippers are able to transport their freight and carriers can fill their capacity, making it a win for everyone!

The trucking industry faces many challenges over the next decade. Without enough trucks to deliver all the goods produced in our economy, other industries would stagnate and everyday life would come to a halt. That makes it almost a certainty that the industry will rise to the challenge of the driver shortage and find new and inventive ways to mitigate the negative impacts. It will be interesting to see how the driver shortage progresses!

Trucker Infographic Kuebix

erp integration kuebix tms

How Integrating Your ERP With Your TMS Will Make Life Easier

Hardly anyone will deny that technology is the future. For companies with supply chains, this means utilizing some combination of a transportation management system (TMS), enterprise resource planning system (ERP) and warehouse management system (WMS) just to keep up with the competition!

That’s a lot of different technology to manage, especially since these disparate technologies don’t usually “talk” to each other. Transferring important order information back and forth from an ERP ordering system to a TMS can be particularly tedious and inefficient. That’s why smart integrations between a TMS and an ERP system like Sage 100, NetSuite, Quickbooks, or Microsoft Dynamics make so much sense.

Shippers who integrate their ERP with their TMS can:

Facilitate the rapid creation of shipments

With an order integration between a TMS and an ERP, orders automatically flow from the ERP to the TMS for easy rating, booking, and tendering. Instead of going back and forth between systems and spreadsheets, the order information is automatically populated, eliminating the need to rekey anything.

Ensure 100% order accuracy

Since information is automatically populated within the TMS, the information is right, every time. It’s amazing the difference it can make when there is no longer any risk of human error because of rekeying. PRO numbers, product SKUs, weights and every other metric of an order appear automatically, resulting in 100% order accuracy.

Gain complete order visibility

Once an order has been booked for shipment, shippers don’t lose visibility to that order. All shipment details are mapped back to the target ERP system for accurate record keeping and visibility for all stakeholders.

Understand the true landed cost of goods

Since all order information is tracked and shared between systems, shippers can leverage reports and analytics to view the true landed cost of goods down to the SKU level. This means they can make smarter decisions regarding their company’s bottom line when they integrate purchase orders directly from an ERP system.

Shippers that choose to integrate their ERP systems with a TMS like Kuebix TMS will rapidly begin to see the time and money savings. Orders are created, booked, and visible at every stage of the supply and can be accurately measured for better strategic decision-making. To learn more about how an ERP integration process with Kuebix is managed, check out the ERP Integration Highway datasheet.

king consumer kuebix

Want to be like Amazon? Treat Your Customers Like Kings.

While many companies consider Amazon to be the ultimate competitor, Amazon didn’t become the trillion-dollar retail and distribution behemoth it is today by focusing on what its competition was doing. Instead, it focused on exciting and delighting its customers.

Remember, Amazon started out selling books. Bookstores were its main competition. Amazon did not aspire to beat bookstores at their own game. Instead, Amazon created an entirely new game.

In a talk at the Economic Club of Washington back in September, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos told his audience, “The number 1 thing that has made us successful by far is obsessive-compulsive focus on the customer as opposed to obsession over the competitor.”

In fact, customer obsession is the very first of Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles: “Leaders start with the customer and work backward. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.”

It’s this unrelenting drive to address customer needs that’s made Amazon “the everything store.”  From day one, Amazon observed its customers, asked for their input, anticipated their wants and needs, and treated them with complete trust and respect. Amazon has been able to build –and scale – its legendary customer service by paying attention to customer behavior and delivering on promises so well that it changed the meaning and importance of “customer expectations.”

Amazon makes their customers “king.” They’ve proven the validity of this strategy by lapping up 50 percent of US e-commerce sales in 2018, per TechCrunch.

Nowadays, customers demand Amazon-like services, a trend known as “the Amazon effect.” Customers want to know where their orders are when they will arrive, and if there is a delay. Amazon does all that – and your business can too with the help of technology. To be able to meet customer needs, Amazon uses technologies to track and optimize shipments, giving visibility to customers so they know what is happening to their orders all along the supply chain.

To make customers king, businesses need to offer a technology-driven experience that gives visibility into transportation processes from order entry to proof of delivery. Shippers use TMS like Kuebix to find scarce capacity, analyze freight rates and secure transportation. Businesses can compare carrier rates side-by-side and choose the best rate that the shipment demands, ensuring quick and efficient deliveries to their customers. They can also provide their customers with real-time tracking and a level of visibility that can only be gained with technology.

product recalls kuebix

The 10 Biggest Product Recalls of All Time

Product recalls are a common occurrence in many industries. This is especially true for food and beverage, automotive manufacturing and pharmaceuticals where the products could directly endanger their purchasers if something is defective.

Recently, there was a nationwide recall on romaine lettuce that had social media in a frenzy and kept salad off of dinner plates all across the country. Adam Bros. Farming, Inc. in Santa Barbara County recalled several types of lettuce harvested November 27-30, 2018 due to being potentially contaminated with E. coli, a dangerous bacterial infection. Even the CDC issued alerts warning consumers now to buy romaine lettuce for several weeks.

Though this recall was dramatic and large in scale, it paled in comparison to some of the other product recalls over the last few decades. Here’s a look at the biggest product recalls of all time, starting with the 1982 Tylenol recall which resulted in 7 deaths.

The 10 biggest product recalls

Rank Recall Cost (as of March 2018)
10 Tylenol $100M
9 Peanut Corp. of America $1B
8 Toyota Floor Mats $3.2B
7 Pfizer’s Bextra $3.3B
6 General Motors Ignition Switches $4.1B
5 Samsung Galaxy Note 7 $5.3B
4 Firestone Tires and Ford $5.6B
3 Merck’s Vioxx $8.9B
2 Volkswagen Diesel Engines $18.3B
1 Takata Air Bags $24B (and counting)

Source: Kiplinger

Product recalls are generally a nightmare to manage and supply chain departments take most of the brunt. In order to ensure the public’s safety, mitigate the cost of the recall and get operations flowing normally again, supply chain professionals need to react quickly. To guarantee the best chance for a “successful” recall, logistics professionals need to be able to track and trace their orders down to the SKU level.

Being able to see where the affected product started, its journey through the supply chain, and where it eventually ended up is crucial. Companies with this level of visibility can identify the customers who received the recalled product and alert them without having to send a blanket message to the entire industry. This can save time and reduce the waste of recalling product that isn’t contaminated or defected.

Any time orders are consolidated or the product is touched is a risk to lose visibility. Transportation management systems (TMS) can be leveraged to retain visibility to orders down to the SKU level in real time. This means that companies with an ongoing recall can pinpoint the areas needing immediate attention and act quickly to minimize the negative impact. Establishing a method to track and trace orders is the best preventative method supply chains can take to prepare for potential recalls.

load builder optimizer kuebix

Building and Optimizing Truckload Shipments with Technology

There’s increased pressure on logistics teams to build perfect truckloads and optimize every route. Freight costs are rising and cutting costs is top of mind for many companies this year. But building the perfect truckload is a challenge for companies that are still manually building and routing their truckload with only the help of a spreadsheet and tribal knowledge.

The Barriers Between Your Business and the Perfect Truckload

There are countless factors associated with building the ideal truckload that need to be taken into consideration such as delivery date, location, class, weight and size. Weighing all of these factors without the help of technology usually results in missed opportunities and wasted resources. Instead of pouring through spreadsheets and manually grouping orders onto a single truck, companies can leverage technology to build and optimize the perfect truckload every time.

How Technology Can Help Logistics Teams  

Smart algorithms within technology suggest combinations which make sense, save time and help companies achieve the lowest possible costs for their shipments, all while still adhering to pre-determined parameters. Users set the parameters for the truck they want to build, adding in LTL constraints, specifying single stop, pickup and delivery date, maximum capacity, or unit of measure, etc. This ensures that logistics teams still have the flexibility to make changes based on customer requests and other unknown factors.

When load building and optimization technology is built directly into a transportation management system (TMS), the router or scheduler can view all unscheduled orders in an intuitive portal before seamlessly routing the shipment. They can filter by route, warehouse, order type, commodity group, date for delivery, account, order source or even pooling location to build a load with the parameters of their choosing.

Technology like Kuebix’s Load Builder and Optimizer is helping companies move away from manual processes and ensure they are always building the most optimized truckloads. Users can view routes on an interactive map, consolidate shipments with easy drag and drop features, and get alerts if any pre-determined parameters aren’t met. Users save time by comparing the most cost-effective and optimized loads and routes can easily manage first mile, final mile and pool distribution shipments.

With load building and route optimizing technology, companies gain complete control over load consolidation and optimization. They never miss an opportunity to save money and can plan loads and routes with transparency in an organized way. With pricing analytics at their fingertips, logistics teams can even compare pre-consolidation and post-consolidation to see exactly how much money is being saved.

respect truckers kuebix

5 Reasons Being a Trucker Should Earn More Respect

Being a truck driver is an underappreciated profession. There are nasty stereotypes and the general public often show a lack of respect to truckers when they’re on the road. Driving a truck is often considered to be a “last resort” profession, even for a culture built proudly on the backs of blue collar workers. This mindset about being a truck driver is not only plain wrong, it’s also causing problems as younger drivers don’t take up the reigns for older drivers as they enter retirement age.

We want to correct the narrative. Truckers provide essential services to our country, undergo extensive training, work hard, and provide a good lifestyle for their families. Here are just a few of the reasons that being a truck driver should earn more respect.

1. Our economy would collapse

This is perhaps the biggest reason that truck drivers deserve more respect. Just about everything that is used or consumed was at one point transported on a truck. This is especially true for essentials like food and household items. Imagine if truckers stopped coming to work. Supermarket store shelves would empty and people everywhere would go hungry. Is your garden bountiful enough to feed your family? We didn’t think so.

Food isn’t the only thing that wouldn’t make it to store shelves. Without truckers, raw materials couldn’t be supplied to manufacturers, new products couldn’t be produced, nothing could be delivered to end consumers, and even the postal service couldn’t operate. Not only that, gas stations would run out of fuel and even “white-collar” professions would have to halt transportation of all kinds failed. Without truckers, our economy would collapse.

Next time you buy a sandwich from your local deli, fill up on the way to work, or check your mailbox, remember that truckers are at least partially responsible for providing you what you need.

2. Lives literally depend on truckers

Imagine what would happen if hospitals and pharmacies couldn’t get replenished with medicine and supplies. It would only take 24 hours for the absence of drivers to put lives at risk. Hospitals would begin to run low on basic medical supplies and people in need wouldn’t be able to get the help they require. Within a single week, hospitals would be running low on oxygen, leaving thousands of people in dire risk of suffocation. This isn’t even to mention life-saving medicine like insulin and antibiotics getting to the people who need them.

Besides medicine and medical supplies quickly running out, other life-saving products like heating fuels couldn’t be delivered either. People living where the winter is harsh would be at serious risk of freezing. Small children and the elderly are at particular risk if the heat goes out. Within one month of truckers being absent from our economy, bottled water supplies would be gone as well, causing issues for homes without reliable drinking water. Truckers are needed to make sure that these essentials arrive at the homes of the people who need them.

3. Truckers are highly trained

There’s a misconception that being a trucker requires little skill and no training. This isn’t true at all. Our culture places undue emphasis on a 4-year college degree and often ignores the vocational and training programs used to prepare some of the most valuable workers in our economy.

Truckers go through extensive training to get to where they are. They have to become licensed in the specific type of rig they drive, which is often a CDL license, or they might get certification to handle chemicals or other hazardous materials they’re transporting. Truckers have to pass many tests including physical, written and driving before they can head out onto the road. They need to learn about the industry’s transportation regulations and keep up with the ever-changing laws. New tools like Electronic Logging Devices require them to adapt and learn about new technologies.

Check out this video of a driver completing a seemingly impossible maneuver with his truck. Now tell me that being a trucker doesn’t require skill, training and experience:

4. Truckers are tough, hard workers

Being a truck driver isn’t for the faint of heart. During a 24 hour period, a trucker is allowed to be on the job for 14 consecutive hours, 11 of which can be behind the wheel. That’s a long day no matter the profession, but truckers need to work these long hours to complete long-haul journeys up to 1500 miles away from home. Truckers are true road warriors, sometimes spending weeks away from home to provide for their families.

It isn’t only the amount of time truckers spend behind the wheel that should earn them respect, it’s also for the difficulty of operating a truck safety and efficiently on the highway. As mentioned above, driving a truck requires training and certification courses, and there’s a reason for that. It’s because driving a truck isn’t as easy as the general public like to think. Though it would be great if every highway was a straight-shot without any traffic on a cool fall day, that isn’t the reality. Truckers need to battle severe weather, rude drivers of passenger cars and navigating unfamiliar and often small roads to drop off their deliveries.

Driving a truck isn’t about sitting behind a wheel and turning it occasionally, it’s about making sure that the products the public needs are delivered safely to their end destinations. This means being hyper-vigilant about drivers hiding in blind spots or zooming around the truck dangerously, staying aware of speed and weight limits, and keeping track of local weather patterns. This level of attention is tough and requires every trucker’s full attention.

5. Community

Truckers have a strong sense of community despite spending many hours alone each day. Some have developed ways to communicate with one another using their headlights and the majority have strong relationships with law enforcement. Unlike common drivers who often feel anxiety when passing a speed trap set by a cop, truckers typically obey speed limits and have good relationships with the police.

There’s also a stereotype that truckers are unapproachable and unfriendly, something that’s been exaggerated in the media. Though there are undoubtedly curmudgeons in every industry, truckers have banded together to create some truly inspiring organizations. One such organization is Truckers Against Trafficking, a program where truckers can get certified to recognize and report incidents of human trafficking. The program exists to “educate, equip, empower and mobilize members of the trucking and busing industries to combat human trafficking.” Currently, there are 680,153 registered TAT trained drivers and more than 1100 victims have been identified due to the organization’s members. That’s a real difference!

Another organization run by truckers is Operation Roger, an initiative to “help needy pets travel to their new homes and have a better chance at a fun-filled life by giving them a hitchhike in the cabs of their trucks and a lot of TLC enroute.” This organization has united or reunited 970 pets, generally one at a time, with their families.

It’s clear to see that truckers deserve respect for the job they do every day. It’s an underappreciated profession that is truly the backbone of our economy. By transporting essentials, truckers are keeping people alive, fed, warm, and happy each and every day. If you know a trucker, make sure to thank him or her for doing what they do!

From the Kuebix team to every trucker, THANK YOU!

government shutdown

What the Government Shutdown Means for Transportation Operations

As we enter day 32 of the government shutdown, it was reported in the WSJ that agencies that oversee the flow of goods are starting to cut back services and working hours at some sites, raising concerns that delays can spread. The New York Times says, “While some essential work, such as mail delivery and law enforcement, is still being performed, the shutdown has affected operations at nine departments, including Homeland Security, Justice, State and Treasury, and several agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and NASA.”

Some TSA and Customs & Border Protection agents are beginning to call in sick as they are working without pay; this has caused hours-long lines in airports and slower paperwork processing. At borders, with less personnel reporting to work, delays at truck crossings can occur.

If you are carrying products that require cold storage, make sure your trucks are in tip-top working order to keep products cold during longer wait times. For products with expiration dates, shippers should try to incorporate delays into overall shipping times to keep items within acceptance dates.

Some other noteworthy challenges from the government shutdown include:

  •      •     FDA stopped its routine inspections of seafood, fruits, vegetables and other foods at high risk of contamination, but is still inspecting meats, eggs, grain, poultry, etc.
  •      •     Social security checks will still come, and the US Postal Service will still deliver them.
  •      •     Law enforcement personnel are working without pay and delays in Federal court proceedings have slowed, adding to the already large backlog of cases.
  •      •     National parks and museums, even the National Zoo, have been closed during the shutdown.

The US Department of Transportation has not been funded for 2019 because of the shutdown, which may delay rulemaking around new Hours of Service proposals. Most shippers will not see any disruption due to the shutdown except for border delays. However, the longer the shutdown, experts are saying, the better chance for a disruption which could translate into thousands of dollars in demurrage and detention penalties. If the shutdown drags on, back-ups at ports, borders and terminals could occur because of piles of delayed paperwork.

The longer the government shutdown continues, the greater potential for a disruption to occur somewhere along the supply chain. There is concern that less visibility into what is going on can lead to challenges that are hard to overcome. Without visibility, demand signals can be missed and there can be interruptions in transport modes. Other potential issues include a loss of suppliers of raw materials, extra high inventory levels (or extra low), hold-ups in customs and more – leading to a sudden rise of prices that can eat into bottom lines and create unhappy customers.

Companies can create strategic supply chain plans to help overcome any disruptions caused by the shutdown. Technology, planning ahead, and extra due diligence will help companies meet customer demands and keep operations moving forward.

 

HC Starck Mark Smolinsky Kuebix Case Study

How Kuebix Helped H.C. Starck Save Money & Become a More Efficient Operation

H.C. Starck is a fabricator of refractory metals servicing the electronics and chemical processing industries. As a company, H.C. Starck has been around for about 125 years and felt that they knew how to efficiently manage their transportation operations without any help. 10 years ago, however, they decided to check out how Kuebix could save them money with their transportation management system (TMS). Since implementation, not only has H.C. Starck saved money, but their freight operations have become more efficient.

With the help of Kuebix TMS, H.C. Stark has averaged about 14% savings on freight costs annually. Those are the hard costs which can be calculated right away and have an obvious impact on the bottom line. The company has also expanded their use of Kuebix services beyond the traditional rating, booking and tracking of freight. Now, they also use Kuebix to have all of their suppliers ship inbound to them. H.C. Starck no longer needs to arrange inbound freight. Instead, their suppliers simply call Kuebix and inbound freight is shipped to their docks with the best available rate. With this service, H.C. Starck estimates that they have saved approximately half a person’s worth of labor.

H.C. Starck’s Logistics Manager, Mark Smolinsky, reports that Kuebix has made his job easier since the first day they got involved with Kuebix. He states that implementing Kuebix is not only a great way to save money, but that it has improved service to end customers as well.

See what Mark Smolinsky has to say about how Kuebix has helped H.C. Starck save money and become more efficient in the case study video below:

 

Inbound Management Kuebix

What You Need for an Unbeatable Inbound Freight Management Strategy

Managing inbound freight is one of the most crucial parts of running a successful supply chain, but the fact is… it’s hard! Each supplier is likely to have different characteristics and the receiving company can be negatively affected by suppliers’ inefficiencies such as low levels of visibility, lack of standardization and poor communication.

When companies lack comprehensive strategies for obtaining the lowest possible shipping and unloading costs or a plan to improve supplier behavior, they leave money on the table and complicate their supply chain. To avoid this, a complete strategy for inbound freight needs to be created which encompass the following three aspects; visibility, collaboration and accountability.

Visibility

Although companies have complete control over outbound shipments, that level of control dwindles when it comes to inbound freight. When it comes down to it, the receiving company does not have full visibility or planning capabilities for shipment arrivals and dock reservations. To optimize their inbound, stakeholders can benefit from better visibility of information such as knowing which carrier is being used, the exact timing of deliveries, and how much labor is needed to load and unload shipments, etc. Real-time data sharing through a single platform can ensure that everyone has the information they need to work toward a common goal.

Collaboration

By using a comprehensive inbound freight plan based on a collaborative ecosystem of suppliers, shippers and carriers, companies can effectively establish a dynamic rating and unloading allowance program. As companies work together with their suppliers to determine the most cost-effective method to handle each shipment (customer pick-up (CPU) or vendor controlled (VDS)) the goal should be to reduce overall shipping costs.

By giving suppliers choices, they’ll be able to select the most effective service and billing procedure. Companies should convert inbound shipments from VDS to CPU only when it’s feasible, and then establish preferred rates with a select group of carriers to handle those inbound shipments. A set of mandatory carriers to be used for all VDS and CPU shipments can be established with a standard routing guide. This will enable LTL pricing improvements, superior service levels and maximize consolidation opportunities.

Accountability

While businesses can’t always control what their suppliers do or the efficiency of their suppliers’ operations, they can implement Vendor Inbound Compliance Standards (VICS) to help improve supplier behavior. A comprehensive set of vendor compliance procedures will establish rules and processes that suppliers will follow when making deliveries. These accountability levels should also extend to the company’s own teams to ensure that orders get quickly from their origin to the distribution center (DC). The goal is to improve supplier behavior so that their inefficiencies aren’t causing the receiving company to lose time and money.

By following this general recipe, companies can craft an unbeatable inbound freight management strategy that will not only save them time and money but also improve their supplier relationships.

Download the full Kuebix ebook The Art of Inbound to learn more about crafting an unbeatable inbound strategy.

Transportation Regulations Kuebix

A Look at Transportation Regulations in 2019

Many changes in transportation regulations are coming this year that we’d like to make sure you are aware of.

The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate, which made it illegal for truck drivers to only use paper-logging books to record hours at work and mileage is now over a year old, but groups are still petitioning FMCSA for exemption from the rule. Since ELDs have been put to use, most companies have come to grips with the disruption, some even citing improved efficiencies within their transport operations.

By the end of 2019, the older generations of onboard recording devices will have to be replaced with newer versions. By December 16, 2019, all drivers and carriers subject to the rule must use self-certified ELDs that are registered with FMCSA.

The last major Hours of Service (HoS) revision occurred in 2004. This year the rules will be tweaked, focusing on 4 areas, which include:

  •      •     Expanding the current 100 air-mile “short-haul” exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours on-duty, in order to be consistent with the rules for long-haul truck drivers;
  •      •     Extending the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to 2 hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions;
  •      •     Revising the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after 8 hours of continuous driving; and
  •      •     Reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks that are equipped with a sleeper-berth compartment.

In Congress, a bill that would lower the minimum age of 21 years for commercial truck drivers working in interstate commerce could emerge this year. The bill will allow people between the ages of 18 and 21 to get a commercial driver license once they have logged 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time with an experienced driver. When complete, young drivers can drive big trucks on the interstate, which will hopefully help with the driver shortage.

On January 6, 2020, a new drug and alcohol clearinghouse will go into effect. It is an electronic database containing alcohol and drug violations of commercial vehicle drivers. The clearinghouse will help to ensure that commercial vehicle drivers and the public that share the road with them are safe.

Top Challenges for Supply Chains in 2019 2

Driver Shortage/Capacity Crunch Voted Biggest Challenge for Supply Chains in 2019

In December, we polled industry professionals about what they foresaw would be the biggest challenge for supply chains in 2019. Over 550+ people voted and one trend received over 44% of the votes!

The driver shortage/capacity crunch will be the biggest challenge for supply chains in the new year.

The driver shortage and capacity crunch is a trend we’ve been following for some time. A combination of truck drivers from the Boomer generation aging out of the workforce coupled with an increased demand for shipping (read: e-commerce) has created a shortage of both truckers and capacity. New talent in the workforce is also steering clear of often lucrative trucking positions. Companies with freight to ship are pulling out all the stops to attract reliable capacity for their freight.

There is nothing to indicate that the driver shortage and capacity crunch trends are slowing down. In fact, customer expectations continue to increase. Consumers are demanding greater visibility to their orders en route and faster shipping at the fraction of the cost. The need for an increased amount of capacity and more drivers will continue to exacerbate an already tight market where capacity is scarce and drivers are in short supply.

Here are the results of the other supply chain challenges we surveyed in December 2018:

  • Rising freight costs – 24%
  • Managing customer expectations – 10%
  • Lack of visibility and collaboration – 8%
  • Final mile shipping – 7%
  • Implementing a TMS – 5%
  • Other – 8%

In the ‘Other’ category, our respondents were able to write in their own answer to what they believe will be the biggest challenge for 2019. Of the 8 people who chose to write in, two cited the tariffs imposed on Chinese imports in 2018. One person went on to explain that the challenge for supply chains will be “Reacting to volatile tariffs and their short and medium-term impact on planning, capacity and cost.”

Other write-in respondents noted issues such as damages to products in transit, temperature control shipping, optimized inventory management, and lead time reduction. Better supply chain control via transportation management technology can help to mitigate or avoid the negative impact of these issues.

We’re looking forward to a 2019 that will be full of futuristic technologies like automated intelligence, smart active safety features for trucks, and drone technology. The landscape is changing, and with change comes new and more complicated pressures on the supply chain. The driver shortage and capacity crunch aren’t going anywhere. It’s up to each company to strategically plan how they will find reliable capacity and drivers to transport their freight.

What's Your Supply Chain New Year's Resolution - Kuebix

What’s Your Supply Chain New Year’s Resolution?

Lots of us make personal New Year’s resolutions, and some even stick to them! You might decide to hit the gym, stop smoking or start a savings account. Whatever it is, the New Year offers a fresh opportunity to do some goal setting and put your best foot forward. New Year’s resolutions don’t only apply to your personal life though, logistics professionals should start thinking about their supply chain goals for the New Year and resolve to make positive changes in their processes.

Resolve to Get Tech-Savvy

We’re in the midst of an innovation storm where new technologies are emerging from all sides. These new pieces of tech are putting the pressure on supply chains to improve their operations in order to keep up with the competition. This can be a good place to start if you’re trying to think of a good supply chain New Year’s resolution. Think about how trends like automated intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), Blockchain, transportation management systems (TMS), RFID and GPS, electronic logging devices (ELDs), and other technologies are impacting your current operations.

Think about whether you’re leveraging your current technology to its fullest capacity. Ask yourself whether you’ve been procrastinating implementing a piece of technology that you know is only a matter of time. Do you understand all the benefits different supply chain technologies can give you? These questions can get you started in finding the right supply chain resolution for 2019.

Resolve to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Rising customer expectations may also be a sticking point for your company. Resolving to improve customer satisfaction might be a great resolution for your supply chain! Customers are demanding cheaper (if not free) shipping, complete visibility to their orders, and deliveries in record time. What once passed for acceptable is no longer good enough for customers accustomed to special treatment from retail giants like Amazon who offer trackable, free, 2-day shipping to members.

Instead of only asking yourself, you can ask your customers if they are satisfied with your service. Keeping track of customer satisfaction scores can help you understand the areas of opportunity you have in your supply chain. Areas to consider include order processing time (from the time they place the order until it leaves the dock), how difficult it is for a customer to get answers about their shipments, and whether you’re charging your customers the lowest possible amount in shipping.

Resolve to Cut Costs

This is probably a goal that you have year-in and year-out, but that doesn’t make it any less important for 2019. With the capacity crunch and driver shortage, freight rates have been steadily rising for over a decade. It’s difficult to keep shipping costs low when there don’t seem to be a lot of options out there. Couple higher costs with the rising customer expectations mentioned above and you have a recipe for poor profit margins and dissatisfied customers.

If you resolve to cut costs out of your supply chain in 2019, you should start by determining where there is waste in your current system. Are you wasting time individually calling up carriers to ask for rates? Is your network of partners as large as it could be? Are you tracking KPIs to make sure that external partners aren’t costing you money? Could you be consolidating shipments into larger loads or combining several routes into one optimized lane? Could your AR/AP process due with a little streamlining to make sure dollars aren’t being missed? There are many ways supply chains can cut costs on freight spend and which make excellent supply chain New Year’s resolutions.

Your Supply Chain New Year’s Resolution

Whatever you choose as your supply chain New Year’s resolution, make sure that it is measurable and achievable. Keep yourself on track with analytics and make sure to consider the ramifications for the entire supply chain, not only your own department. Making goals and sticking to them can help you enter the modern age with technology, earn loyal and happy customers, and do it all with lower costs and less waste!