Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HKZM)

World’s Longest Sea Bridge Opens in China

On Tuesday, October 22, 2018, President Xi Jinping of China inaugurated the world’s longest sea bridge in an opening ceremony commemorating the historic nature of the mega-project. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HKZM) unveiling marked a milestone in trade and infrastructure between three culturally and historically different areas of China. The bridge and tunnel stretch across a total of 34.2 miles and connect mainland China with Hong Kong and Macau.

Controversies Surrounding the Project

The project spanned nearly a decade and overshot both its completion date and budget, with Hong Kong alone investing $15 billion into the bridge. The original open date was set for 2016, but the immense nature of the project and controversy about the 600 worker injuries and 10 deaths delayed its completion. In addition to the dangerous nature of the construction, environmentalists believe that the bridge has disrupted the habitat of Hong Kong’s pink dolphin, an already endangered species.

Han Zheng, a top Chinese official overseeing Beijing’s relationship with Hong Kong, declared that the bridge marked the first time that the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau had cooperated to complete a major infrastructure project together. Despite officially being part of China, the relationship between Hong Kong and the mainland has often been tense, and Hong Kong remains independently governed. Hong Kong lawmaker Claudia Mo has given multiple interviews in 2018 comparing the new bridge to a “symbolic umbilical cord tethering Hong Kong to the motherland.”

What Does the Bridge Mean for Trade?

The area the bridge spans, the Pearl River Delta, is one of the world’s busiest shipping areas. Mid-way through the bridge’s 34.2 miles, the bridge dips underwater into a tunnel to allow ships to pass through.  According to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Authority more than 4,000 vehicles including container ships to passenger ferries pass through the area every day. So far, the bridge hasn’t been disrupting ocean freight. It is expected to significantly improve over-the-road (OTR) shipping on trucks, however.

Instead of driving upwards of 3 hours to reach Macau or Hong Kong from the mainland, the bridge is expected to cut travel time down to 30 minutes. Only commercial vehicles, busses containing tourists and a very select few private cars will be allowed to use the bridge with the correct permits, allowing traffic to be kept at a manageable level. The bridge will likely make it easier for products produced in factories on the west side of the bridge to be exported from both sea and airports on the east side. This means that goods can be more easily shipped out of Hong Kong’s international airport, already the world’s busiest cargo airport.

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HKZM) Map

China’s Changing Economy

Mega-projects like this one, along with other cultural and political shifts, are changing China’s economy. The country’s middle-class is also growing, and that means China will no longer purely be an exporter of goods, but will also be a leading importer. More infrastructure like this bridge demonstrates China’s goal of being a leading trade partner with the rest of the world. Companies looking to expand into new markets should look at China for new opportunities.

Carrier Relationship Management - Kuebix

5 Ways Shippers Can Make Carriers Love Them

You may know about the importance of Carrier Management – about how measuring the performance of carriers and monitoring KPIs can improve carrier and shipper relationships.

However, it’s no longer just shippers measuring the performance of carriers. Tightening capacity, fewer drivers and heightened demand are causing carriers to hold shippers to similar standards and monitoring their behavior.

It’s now imperative that carriers have great experiences at the dock and in the yard, just as it’s important that those carriers deliver to customers on time.

Here are 5 ways shippers can make their carriers love them:

  1. Respect your promises. When you make a commitment with a carrier, whether it is to ship in a certain lane or to provide them with more information about your freight, honoring your commitments will lead to a win-win relationship.
  2. Treat each driver as a partner. Anything you can do to help carriers retain drivers will strengthen the partnership. If you respect the drivers, they are more likely to want to great job for you and the carrier. That means respecting a driver’s time, so don’t keep them waiting at the dock. With a dock scheduling system, docks will be open when they are supposed to be, keeping truckers moving.
  3. Plan ahead. Share forecasted demand schedules with your carriers so they can better plan their truck assets. If carriers know in advance that there will be a surge in volume around a particular time of the year, like the holidays, then they can be more strategic about keeping the right amount and right size of assets needed for forecasted shipments.
  4. Create a two-way street of communication. With an open door policy of regular communication, shippers and carriers become more confident in their relationship. You provide feedback to carriers on how well they are doing. Carriers, in turn, make suggestions to shippers on what they like and don’t like about their operations, procedures and relationship. Make sure to act on the feedback.
  5. Pay quickly. When shippers pay carriers quickly, carriers will be happier and more likely to continue doing business with you. They may even be willing to do additional business with your company, such as finding and scheduling additional capacity. Auditing freight bills so that they are paid correctly means your carriers will receive the money they should be paid and won’t have to come back to you when an invoice is wrong.

Proper communication, following procedures and honoring commitments shows that you, as the shipper, respect your carriers. In turn, they will be more likely to want to work with you over other shippers. This will work in your favor in the capacity crisis and help you to keep your orders shipping efficiently.

Kuebix Free Shipper One Year Anniversary

What a Difference a Year Makes

A year ago, Kuebix introduced a game-changing technology which would change online-logistics communities for the better. This piece of technology is Kuebix Free Shipper, the industry’s first free multimodal TMS offering unlimited rating, booking and tracking of TL, LTL and parcel freight. In the year since it was first introduced to the supply chain industry, Kuebix’s user-base has grown to over 15,000 companies. This means that Kuebix’s Global Logistics Community is rapidly growing and the opportunities for collaboration are innumerable.

We all know that the transportation industry is currently faced with a number of challenges. There is a shortage of drivers, not enough capacity to haul freight, and consumers are demanding better final mile options and customer experience. In order to meet these new criteria, companies with freight to ship need to work collaboratively and leverage technology to their advantage.

The issue of collaboration has been a difficult one up until this point. Companies in different industries don’t generally have a reason to communicate, so finding common opportunities and bridging this divide is initially difficult. It all changes when companies come together with a single piece of cloud-based technology. A transportation management system (TMS) is the ideal way to unite shippers and form an online logistics community where different members collaborate to share capacity, find better rates, and fill backhaul opportunities.

Since the launch of Kuebix Free Shipper and its unprecedented growth and expansion of the Kuebix Global Logistics Community, Kuebix has launched its first service built exclusively for the community. The service, called Kuebix Community Load Match, helps shippers find and book truckload rates on the spot market to help them overcome the capacity crunch. This is only the first of many community member benefits, and Kuebix is set to announce new partnerships and programs which will bring additional value to the Global Logistics Community.

Companies looking for advanced functionality, analytics, and multiple users/locations can upgrade to Kuebix Business Pro and Kuebix Enterprise and then seamlessly add Premier Applications and Integrations as needed. The ecosystem of shippers, suppliers and carriers within the community use Kuebix TMS to gain visibility of opportunities to coordinate capacity with demand. Members leverage Kuebix to fight the capacity crunch, driver shortage, and to meet the ever-increasing expectations of consumers.

The first year since Kuebix Free Shipper was launched has been full of unprecedented growth. We are excited to see what tools and services will be available to the community in the coming year!

Want to see where it all began? Watch the Kuebix Free Shipper video.

Futuristic Truck - Kuebix

3 Futuristic Truck Designs That Will Make You Do a Double-Take

We’ve all heard that self-driving cars are fast approaching the market, but did you know that other futuristic vehicles are being produced too? The anticipated technological advances of the near future are sure to rock the trucking industry. In some ways, technology already has.

For starters, truck drivers are required to use an electronic logging device (ELD) to automatically track their driving, eliminating the hundred-year-old tradition of manual inputs. And if that’s not enough, technology to allow one driver to operate multiple vehicles at the same time is fast approaching. Driver Assisted Truck Platooning will mean that a parade of self-driving trucks can connect to one traditionally driven truck in order to reduce carbon emissions and reduce the effects of the driver shortage the industry is currently experiencing.

But how do we translate these interior advances to a truck’s exterior? This is where new truck designs come in!

  1. Tesla’s Semi – Tesla, everyone’s favorite innovator, introduced their new semi this year. This truck can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 5 seconds without a trailer attached, or with a trailer attached in 20 seconds, making it the fastest semi in the world. To complement its advanced technology, Tesla redesigned the exterior. The new truck looks more like a luxury vehicle than it does a massive freight transporter. Even millennials, who normally shy away from trucking, are dying to get their chance to drive one of these. The industry is seeing these striking trucks on the road in just a few short months.Kuebix - Tesla Truck
  2. UPS’s New Trucks – In order to lower their carbon footprint on the road, UPS purchased 125 Tesla Semi trucks, awarding them the largest order Tesla has seen since pre-orders for the Semi opened. Along with the Tesla order, UPS also plans to deploy a fleet of 35 electric trucks on a trial basis in the UK. The electric trucks, sourced and designed by the British company Arrival, have been referred to as the Pixar trucks. The new design looks like something you would see on screen in Toy Story, The Incredibles or any other Pixar film. We hope to see one of these trucks in the US sometime soon!Kuebix - UPS Truck
  3. Audi’s Potential New Rig – Artem Smirnov and Vladimir Panchenko love Audi so much that they designed a new rig for Audi and posted it on a Behance page for the company to see and hopefully use. Their design is different, to say the least. First of all, the truck will have no windows and an open cockpit. Furthermore, the truck will be completely self-driving. Though Audi hasn’t announced if they are going to manufacture this design, we can still dream about it, can’t we?Kuebix - Audi Truck

Though these trucks are not on the road yet, they will be wildly anticipated over the next few months by an industry which is undergoing a tremendous amount of technological change. When the time comes for futuristic trucks like these to be on the road, the look of trucking as we know it will change forever. At Kuebix, we are looking forward to the arrival of these designs in 2019 as much as the rest of the industry!

Kuebix Blog

What Happens If the Truck Doesn’t Show Up?

As a shipper, you’ve got your deliveries all planned to arrive at the right places at the right times. You’ve chosen the right carrier which meets your service and cost requirements from your list of approved carriers within your Transportation Management System (TMS). Everything is moving smoothly on your end, but what happens if the truck doesn’t show up?

The carrier you’ve chosen that is responsible for your shipment has an enormous responsibility. How that company moves your freight not only means the difference between a satisfied customer or an unhappy one but also between effective distribution of your products or careless, wasteful handling of them.

Carriers are dependent on their drivers to move goods effectively and efficiently. But the drivers can be delayed for a variety of reasons, such as the driver suddenly encounters heavy traffic, the truck breaks down, a sudden weather event occurs, or a highway is unexpectedly closed. A wide variety of uncontrollable events can happen to delay any truck.

Often a truck will arrive at a dock without making an appointment and there aren’t any workers there to help unload. There may not even be a dock available and the truck will have to sit and idle for hours waiting for a slot to open up.

Yes, carriers have a lot of juggling they must do to ensure trucks arrive where and when they are supposed to. Any time freight doesn’t move precisely as expected, shippers will be looking to their carriers for an explanation and a quick resolution.

What is the solution? As a shipper, you should use a TMS to gain visibility up and down the supply chain to uncover bottlenecks and to diminish risks. Look for clues to where weaknesses appear in current operations. Make sure that you keep detailed key performance indicators (KPIs) on carriers to ensure compliance – and carriers should keep KPIs on shippers as well.

Carriers should create strategies to mitigate risks by having backup drivers and trucks that can pick up and deliver orders on a dime. If you don’t have backup drivers or trucks, you can reach out to the spot market to secure capacity. If the order is small enough, you may be able to expedite the shipment via couriers or Uber-like services. To achieve a high level of collaboration, shippers can leverage Carrier Relationship Management tools to track tasks, interactions and KPIs.

Carriers and shippers must do whatever they can to establish a strong working relationship and work side-by-side to solve problems like the truck not showing up on time. Careful planning and open communication keeps each party informed on what is happening and the visibility gained from a TMS system aids in that plan and leads to better customer experiences.

Holman Parts Case Study

Holman Parts Distribution Uses Kuebix as a Complete Supply Chain and Logistics Tool

Holman Parts is a national supplier of OEM powertrain and core collection services in the automotive industry. Before implementing Kuebix TMS, Holman was managing their logistics operations in a decentralized manner. Each location had their own processes in place and there wasn’t any standardization. The company wasn’t taking advantage of using regional carriers or finding synergies between shipments because they didn’t have any data to work off of.

Holman implemented Kuebix TMS as their transportation management solution in 2016 and now uses the system across all of their distribution centers. The software provides invoice auditing, vendor management tools and to strategically plan large-scale changes like new distribution centers. Holman uses the TMS as an ‘all-in’ logistics and supply chain tool and knows they are always choosing the most efficient, least expensive way to ship their products when they book using Kuebix.

Watch Holman Parts Distribution’s Logistics and Operations Manager, John Conte; and Controller, Michele Morelli discuss how Kuebix is providing their company visibility to shipments, saving significant money, and automating processes to cut down on wasted time.

To start realizing similar results, sign up today.

10 Reasons Being a Truck Driver is Better Than Being a Rideshare Driver

Being a rideshare driver for Uber, Lyft or any other peer-to-peer ridesharing service is very trendy with millennials. What isn’t trendy at the moment is being a truck driver. This is despite the obvious benefits and number of available jobs for adults with their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). A combination of positive consumer outlooks, low unemployment rates and increased e-commerce business are causing a huge driver shortage in the supply chain industry. This is raising truckers’ salaries and putting them back into the “driver’s seat” with employers. But according to Business Insider, the ‘unprecedented’ jump in drivers’ salaries still aren’t enough to end the driver shortage.

Here are 10 reasons being a trucker is better than driving for a rideshare service:

  1. Stability – The transportation industry isn’t going anywhere. There will always be a need for products to be shipped from one state to another and trucks are the most efficient way for companies to achieve this goal. This means a constant supply of reliable work for drivers.
  2. Training – Many trucking companies are offering paid training for employees who wish to earn their CDLs. Not only is this a way to get some free job training without forking over money for a certificate or college program, but it’s a way to get paid doing it!
  3. Growing Salaries – Due to the increased need for truck drivers, salaries are continuing to increase between 8 – 12% each year. Currently, the median annual salary for a truck driver is $40,000. According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), a trucker employed by a private fleet such as Walmart can earn upwards of $73,000. Some drivers report earning up to 6 figures!
  4. Career Path – Being a truck driver looks great on a resume and can lead to all sorts of other positions. Understanding the transportation industry is a benefit for careers in warehousing, routing, distribution and many others. Drivers can continue to grow as they become seasoned truckers or can take advantage of industry knowledge to move about the supply chain.
  5. Asset Free – Unlike with ridesharing companies, drivers don’t have to own their own assets. No personal car or truck is required, meaning that mechanical issues and depreciation never affect the driver. It also means that the driver doesn’t need to pay for gasoline out-of-pocket, making total wages more reliable.
  6. No Liability – This goes hand-in-hand with not having to operate personally owned assets. No liability rests with the drivers when there is a mechanical failure, thefts, or accidents. The carrier insures their drivers and assets, leaving the driver the sole responsibility of delivering the goods safely.
  7. Sign-on Bonus – Few positions with requiring no experience offer a significant sign on bonus. This is different in the trucking industry due to the pressing need to hire long-term drivers. Bonuses are usually paid out over the course of a year, ensuring that new drivers continue to work for the carrier. These bonuses have grown in recent years, moving from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand.

SIGN-ON BONUS RATES, Q-2 2017 VERSUS Q-2 2018 (GRAPH: GORDON KLEMP, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE)

  1. No Slow Times – Rideshare drivers can’t rely on steady business each day. On holidays, when there are traffic accidents, or simply because there are no travelers, rideshare drivers cannot rely on steady income. A rideshare driver might spend an hour idle and waiting for their next pickup. With truck driving, there is a set schedule and always plenty of work.
  2. No Strange Passengers – Everyone has heard the horror stories of strange or obnoxious passengers that rideshare and taxi drivers have to put up with. Whether it’s a group of drunken friends out for an evening, lost tourists who argue the price of the fare, or someone who simply never shows up, drivers have many stories to tell. With truck driving, routes are predetermined and truckers don’t have to put-up with unknown passengers.
  3. Learn About an Exciting Industry – The supply chain and transportation industries are booming! The rise of e-commerce has meant a greater need for optimization and technology. New software is being used on-board trucks and designs for futuristic vehicles are seen on the news almost weekly. From autonomous vehicles, platooning technology where trucks follow each other, and energy efficient electric vehicles, the transportation industry is certainly going through an exciting time!

With all of these benefits, it’s a surprise that more job-seekers aren’t turning to truck driving over ridesharing and other positions. Being a trucker offers great compensation, stability and a path for growth for years to come. At Kuebix, we thank all those drivers who have built their career in the transportation industry!

Kuebix - Warning Signs Technology

Warning Signs That Your Technology Is Creating More Problems Than It Solves

The goal when adding technology to current processes is to streamline operations, improve efficiencies and free-up internal resources like IT support. In many scenarios, however, companies expend more resources implementing new technology than they save. Before integrating a new tool or software into current processes, companies should consider their return on investment (ROI) and ask themselves, “will this technology solve more problems than it creates?”

Look for these warning signs when assessing a new technology’s potential ROI:

Slow implementations – Implementation processes should be fast and smooth, meaning that it’s easy to set up, integrate with other software, and transfer critical data back and forth. Out-of-the-box implementations with configurability let users customize their experience while still beginning to generate value straight-away. If the implementation takes months, or even years, that’s valuable time and money going down the drain even as the company’s requirements change, rendering the solution unusable. Companies should look carefully at their technology provider’s ability to implement quickly.

Not customizable on an ongoing basis – Once initial integration is complete, it’s important that tools for ongoing configuration are available to provide users the adaptability they need. Users should be able to easily modify settings, permissions, etc. to ensure changes in business needs don’t result in roadblocks. If every time business need change, companies need to dedicate IT resources to make the alternations, that detracts from the technology’s overall ROI.

Unintuitive user experience – The experience of the user is of utmost importance. It doesn’t matter whether the technology has every “bell and whistle” available. If the interface is impossible to navigate the software will likely “sit on the shelf” unused. Great user experience makes it easier to train teams, successfully leverage money-saving features and avoid wasting-time misusing the system. ROI cannot be generated successfully if users need to be IT experts simply to use the technology.

No support from the technology providerTechnology providers shouldn’t sell their product and simply wave goodbye. Ongoing support and assistance means that companies can be confident in their ability to use the technology over the long-term. A team of experts from the technology provider should work directly with users to determine the optimal setup and should offer both out-of-the-box solutions as well as fully customized ones. The provider should work side-by-side with users to ensure that the technology isn’t only a stand-alone tool, but a complete solution to meet their business needs.

Time-consuming implementations and limited capabilities are common reasons that technology sometimes doesn’t deliver the optimal ROI. Without ongoing IT and customer support, users can end up feeling as though they would have been better off without the new technology. Software like Kuebix TMS solves this issue by offering a modular, scalable and intuitive TMS platform which can be fully implemented and integrated with the help of Kuebix experts. From initial setup through routine use of the solution, Kuebix partners with users to ensure that their TMS is providing optimal ROI.

VPSI Case Study - Kuebix

How One Company Emphasizes Customer Service While Expanding Distribution

For 60 years, Veterinary and Poultry Supply, Inc. (VPSI) has been a family owned and operated business headquartered in Goshen, IN with branches throughout the Midwest. The company distributes a wide variety of animal health and nutritional products for poultry, cattle, swine, horses, sheep, goats, deer and even small animals. As their business began to expand regionally, VPSI turned to Kuebix TMS to help manage new carrier relationships and an increased number of orders.

Thad Stuteville, Sales Support & Customer Service at VPSI, has been with the company for 16 years and has seen the company’s growth first-hand with the addition of a Premium Orange Label Calf Milk Replacer. During the implementation of Kuebix TMS, Stuteville was pleased with the support and usability of the platform.

“When we first started with Kuebix I just loved it, it’s so simple to use. If I have any questions I can call and get an answer right away! We have more than one user on the system. When they were on-boarded, I honestly expected to hear a lot back. But they were able to jump right in!” – Thad Stuteville, Sales Support and Customer Service

In the past, VPSI relied on their sales team to hand-deliver the majority of their products to customers. VPSI places a heavy emphasis on customer service and knows the importance of retaining those relationships. Even as the business grows past the sales team’s ability to hand-deliver all orders, VPSI is strengthening its supply chain with the addition of competitive parcel rates from a variety of carriers who value customer experience as much as they do. Kuebix is making it easier for the company to manage these new relationships, free up time for the sales team and ensure customer satisfaction.

“The easiest part of changing our delivery model was working with Kuebix! It was more than I expected from a system. It’s simple.”

Melinda Burton, Branch Manager at VPSI Mentone, is a daily user of Kuebix TMS. As an increased number of orders continue to come in across the Midwest and even further afield, Burton has been able to leverage Kuebix to connect carriers, compare rates and book shipments. It’s meant scaling the business all while completely revolutionizing their logistics processes.
Now, VPSI can manage orders and make deliveries to customers all over. VPSI is growing its new calf milk replacer and continues to offer farm, stable, feed store and other livestock businesses the high level of support they deserve.

Read the full case study here: https://www.kuebix.com/resources/vpsi-strengthens-supply-chain-with-the-help-of-kuebix-tms

Preparing for the Holidays Supply Chain - Kuebix

It’s Almost October – Time to Get Ready for the Holidays!

Companies are getting ready for the holiday season – hiring additional workers, renting warehouse space, adding more drivers or contracting with additional carriers, and putting stock on shelves.

We are lucky this year as there is an extra shopping day this holiday season because Thanksgiving comes earlier in the month compared to last year. Most people will shop about 42 days in advance of the holiday, while others wait for deals around Black Friday. BestBlackFriday.com predicts that with the biggest shopping day being earlier than usual, deals will be launched earlier than ever. Regardless of when customers will shop, NetElixir predicts that online revenue will grow by 15 percent over last year. Based on this analysis, Amazon is expected to account for 40 percent of holiday sales.  Deloitte says holiday sales could reach $1.1 trillion.

Both UPS and FedEx are hiring extra workers to keep up with the added demand for order fulfillment in the age of e-commerce. In fact, UPS will use over 100,000 seasonal staffers to support its anticipated package volume increase from November through next January. FedEx will hire close to 55,000 workers for the holiday season.

Retailers need to focus on their omnichannel transportation strategies to overcome any issues from tariffs or the rise in demand. One strategy is to make sure you have inventory in the right locations at the right time so you can avoid out-of-stocks. Not having products in stock means loss of revenues. That is why it is important to have visibility of inventory from end-to-end so that you can fill orders from stores or distribution centers. Companies can utilize inventory positioning to ensure SKUs are in the right store or distribution center at the right time to fulfill customer orders when they want them.

Another strategy to overcome seasonal issues is to provide customers with the best experience and best service. Customers that order from Amazon know where their orders are at all times. Using technology, retailers can provide this same experience by tracking shipments in real-time and alerting customers if orders will be delayed. Good customer service leads to strong customer satisfaction and sets you apart from the competition.

Being proactive to give order forecasts to carriers will entice them to provide scarce capacity to your business. If carriers can better plan their asset utilization because they know when shippers will need trucks, everybody wins. Cooperation and collaboration among trading partners yield better access to capacity which can improve on-time delivery percentages.

Getting orders to their final destination will take a scalable, flexible transportation platform and large carrier network. Kuebix TMS can help retailers get their supply chains ready for the holiday season.

Blockchain - Kuebix

Blockchain – What Does it Mean for Supply Chains?

Blockchain is all the buzz in many industry communications today. It promises to significantly improve business processes, especially for global businesses, which work across different countries, entities and supply chain partners. Each blockchain enabled supply chain can span hundreds of locations with hundreds of product variables with hundreds of operations involved, making them quite complex.

As complexity grows, visibility and transparency suffer. With manufacturing globalized, multiple suppliers located in various countries and a wide range of transportation modes, transparency goes out the window and it gets harder to know the true cost to serve customers, let alone where and how a product is made.

This is where blockchain will transform the supply chain.

Blockchain will unify digital data by recording each transaction. Blockchain is a distributed, digital ledger that can be used for agreements, contracts, tracking, payment, trade, etc. In an article in Forbes, blockchain is further explained: “Since every transaction is recorded on a block and across multiple copies of the ledger that are distributed over many nodes (computers), it is highly transparent. It’s also highly secure since every block links to the one before it and after it. There is not one central authority over the blockchain, and it’s extremely efficient and scalable. Ultimately, blockchain can increase the efficiency and transparency of supply chains and positively impact everything from warehousing to delivery to payment.”

Let’s look at the three things blockchain brings to the supply chain.

Distributed Ledger – A virtual, distributed and permanent record of hundreds of business transactions between supply chain partners. Because blockchain is decentralized, data is resilient and more uniform, helping to standardize the way companies access and store important information and documents.

Smart Contracts – Blockchain supports the automated execution of terms, conditions and business rules, which make up the smart contract, and can automatically enforce the T&Cs between trading partners. With this capability, the ability to substitute a product for another could not occur because non-compliant transactions are not allowed.

Linking Physical Items – With blockchain, data is entered once and represented the same way across all transactions, such as a product description which will remain the same throughout the whole supply chain. Early adopters are supporting the use of GS1 Standards in blockchain to achieve serialization and ensure the systems interoperability that leads to unified commerce.

Another standard, Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS), has the ability to transmit granular product details and identify individual physical events as products move through the supply chain. In conjunction with blockchain, EPCIS gives transparency to a customer, letting them know exactly where their product was made and what it is made of.

Many businesses are looking into blockchain for their supply chains, but others feel the technology is in its infancy, so they are waiting to see what will happen. It has promise – with the ability to track secure transactions throughout the supply chain, creating a permanent history of a product, from manufacturing to end user.

The ROI Trifecta - Kuebix TMS

The ROI Trifecta and Your TMS

Transportation Management Systems (TMS), like many types of software, have varying degrees of success when implemented. A TMS should greatly improve any shipper’s transportation operation and reduce the cost of freight, but it’s important to evaluate how its speed of implementation, user experience, and adaptability are going to impact ROI before committing.

In order to choose the right transportation management system, it is crucial that companies focus on usability and total cost of ownership. Too often, enterprise software implementations take far too long and the technology is too difficult to use in production due to non-intuitive user interfaces. A TMS should focus its efforts on fast implementations and usability to drive rapid ROI for customers.

According to Gartner’s recently released Critical Capabilities for Transportation Management Systems, companies should “Select flexible public cloud platforms that speed up implementation, improve ROI and provide wider transportation networks.” But understanding where to start can be a huge hurdle for many companies new to the TMS space. The best place to start is with the ROI Trifecta; user experience, speed of implementation, and adaptability.

User Experience

The experience of the user is of utmost importance. It doesn’t matter whether the TMS has every “bell and whistle” available. If the interface is impossible to navigate the software will likely “sit on the shelf.” Great user experience makes it easier to train teams, successfully leverage money-saving features and avoid wasting-time misusing the system. ROI cannot be generated successfully if users reject the new system because it’s more complicated than their old processes.

Speed of Implementation

Implementation processes should be fast and smooth, meaning that it’s easy to connect carrier rates, integrate with ERP systems like SAP, NetSuite, etc. and transfer financial data back to their financial system. TMS platforms need to work directly out-of-the-box with the ability to configure the application to the customer’s needs. If the implementation takes months, or even years, that’s valuable time and money going down the drain even as the company’s requirements change, rendering the solution unusable. Customers need to look carefully at the track record of their supplier’s ability to implement quickly.

Adaptability

Even if initial integration has been completed smoothly, it’s important that tools for ongoing configuration are available to provide users the adaptability they need. “Gartner research finds that particularly more complex TMS buyers place more emphasis on technical architecture and especially the adaptability of the TMSs they are considering.” Users should be able to easily add carriers and tariffs, create their own customized reports and bring on new users, etc. Without adaptability, ROI is hampered whenever the company’s needs change.

Before taking the plunge and committing to a TMS, companies should evaluate all the options available to them and determine which platforms have the best ROI Trifecta. A recipe of user experience, speed of implementation and adaptability results in a TMS which can provide optimal ROI.

Get a complimentary copy of Gartner’s recently released Critical Capabilities for Transportation Management Systems to see how high Kuebix ranks for usability, implementation and adaptability.

Hurricane Florence - Kuebix

Hurricane Florence has Supply Chains Bracing for Impact

Hurricane Florence is poised to be one of the most disastrous hurricanes to ever hit the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. It’s currently scheduled to make landfall in South Carolina on Thursday, September 13th. The National Weather Service upgraded Florence to a Category 4 storm, the second most powerful category of hurricane, on Monday at noon EST.

States north of Florida haven’t been hit by a Category 4 storm since the devastating Hurricane Fran in 1996. Hurricane Sandy, one of the most disastrous hurricanes to hit the east coast, was only a Category 3 when it made impact. Residents are now bracing for a storm that is likely to wipe out power, cause major flooding, and tear-apart even well-built buildings.

Supply chains are expecting major disruption due to Hurricane Florence

Residents of east coast states are stocking up and buckling down ahead of Hurricane Florence. Local governments are handing out sand to use in defense of flooding, residents are flocking to grocery stores to stockpile bottled water and non-perishable foods, and emergency supplies such as backup generators and plywood are flying off of hardware store shelves. Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina have already declared a state of emergency due to Hurricane Florence.

Ahead of any major weather event, retailers experience huge surges in sales as everyone stockpiles the goods they may need to weather the storm. This causes unforeseen demand spikes and wide-spread out-of-stocks, meaning that retailers need to scramble to keep up with unexpected sales. Many retailers rely on the spot market to find additional capacity as they rush to fill both store orders and online orders. Long before a storm makes landfall, supply chains are already bracing for their impact.

Once Hurricane Florence hits the east coast, all supply chain activity in the hardest hit areas is likely to come to a complete halt. Roads will be flooded or impassible due to debris, airports will be shut down, and transportation workers will be evacuating with their families. Many trucks are likely to get stranded before arriving at their destinations and communication will be critical.

What can companies do to prepare their supply chains?

Preparedness is the key for supply chains to successfully weather a major hurricane like Florence. Companies transporting goods should leverage technology to retain visibility to shipments, find the best carriers and manage an increased number of orders due to a spike in demand. Shippers should closely monitor federal and state announcements and stop sending to zip codes that have been closed to deliveries. Once the storm passes, companies with strong supply chains can aid in emergency distribution and can help with rebuilding efforts.

The Traits Defining Successful Final Mile Shipping

The Traits Defining Successful Final Mile Shipping

The growth of online shopping has resulted in an increased demand for final mile shipping. Retailers who can deliver their products to customers as promised and with excellent customer experiences are gaining market share and creating loyal customers. However, final mile shipping isn’t simply about moving orders from the distribution center or mixing center to the customer’s doorstep. It’s about providing an experience which will keep customers coming back for more. If it isn’t enough to simply get the product to the customer, what traits make for the most successful final mile shipping operations?

Speed of delivery – In the past, ordering a product from a magazine or online and receiving it within 4 – 6 weeks was the norm. Modern consumers no longer accept such a long delivery period. Amazon Prime’s 2-day shipping guarantee sets a high bar for retailers who must now compete with this standard. 2-day shipping has become an industry expectation, though some shoppers will settle for 3 – 5 day shipping. Others will even pay a premium for same-day or next-day delivery of their orders.

Successful final mile shipping operations are putting an emphasis on promising and delivering goods fast. There are a number of ways to speed up the supply chain, and most of them require implementing technology. Many retailers are leveraging TMSs to optimize their delivery routes, consolidate orders and streamline operations at the dock. Others are sourcing warehousing space within city centers to reduce the total number of miles traveled. Still others are letting customers pick-up their online orders at designated locations such as grocery stores or lockers in public places.

Visibility – Visibility to orders has taken on a whole new meaning in the recent years. Merely confirming that an order has been received and supplying a delivery timeframe no longer meets customer expectations. Instead, shoppers expect to be able to track their goods through every step of the supply chain. This means being able to identify where the item was warehoused, what shipping service was used for transport, and when carrier changes occur en route. And all of these steps in the process must be trackable for the customer in real-time.

Until recently, providing Amazon-like visibility has been a challenge for smaller retailers hoping to give their customers access to order statuses in real-time. An API Integration to a TMS platform helps retailers track shipments down to the SKU level. With that information automatically received from the TMS, retailers can provide their customers alerts and updates regarding their orders. This tracking ability helps retailers answer questions like ‘when can I expect my order,’ ‘where is my order now’ and ‘what is causing a delay in shipment.’

Flexibility – Current consumers expect that their shopping experience will fit their needs. There are a myriad of ways consumers like to shop, whether that be online, from an app, in a store, or otherwise. Customers also expect to be able to receive their purchases when they want and how they want. This means offering them flexible delivery options such as in-store pick-up, delivery to their doorstep or at a designated drop off location. It also means letting them choose the cost and service type that best fits their budget and needs.

Retailers can provide their customers the ability to flexibly customize their delivery preferences when ordering. This can be achieved with the help of a TMS which connects selected carriers “behind the scenes” to provide accurate rate quotes directly to the customer based on their order specification. This means that when a customer is ordering from a retailer’s website, they can see pricing and speed of delivery for different service types. To win customers and gain market share, retailers must provide consumers with delivery options to meet their individual needs.

Perfecting final mile delivery is a hot topic for retailers hoping to capitalize on e-commerce’s growing importance in consumer shopping. Without offering fast, flexible and trackable shipping options, retailers may find that their customers go elsewhere. With the help of technology like Kuebix TMS, retailers can gain detailed tracking information on shipments, compare carrier rates and modes and optimize their supply chains for speed of delivery.