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 due to the capacity crunch and rising consumer expectations, so cutting freight 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.

There are countless factors to take 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 load every time.

Smart algorithms 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 and can easily manage first mile, final mile and pool distribution shipments.

With load building and route optimizing technology, companies gain complete control overload 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 costs 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.

Save Money on Truckload Shipping Kuebix

10 Ways to Save Money on Truckload Shipping

Let’s face it, freight costs are rising as a result of the capacity crunch and driver shortage. Even shipping full truckload isn’t as cost-efficient as it used to be. The dawn of e-commerce ordering has increased the number of shipments as well as made consumers’ expectations higher. Truck drivers are steadily aging out of the workforce as they hit retirement age and other generations aren’t taking up the mantle. The supply chain is one of the largest cost centers for any business, so finding ways to save on truckload freight is a top priority.

Here are 10 ways you can save money on FTL shipping:

 

1. Improve Internal Efficiency

You have the most control over your own internal processes, that’s why streamlining how you and your logistics team works is low hanging fruit for saving money on truckload shipping. Leveraging a transportation management system will help you save time rating, booking and tracking your TL orders. Less time spent will help you save on labor costs and let you reallocate your team’s time to other, more productive uses.

2. Increase Lead Time

Increasing the lead time of your full truckload shipments will help you save on shipping costs. If you work several days ahead, you won’t have to pay higher rates for last-minute capacity and will have a wider selection of carriers to choose from. It also helps your carriers better manage their time and plan routes more effectively. All of these positives trickle down to the end customer to meet their high expectations.

3. Reduce Manual Entry and the Paper Trail

Recording everything by hand and manually dialing up carriers for every truckload shipment is old-fashioned and inefficient. Not only that, it can cost a company when mistakes are made due to human error. If the order quantity or weight was entered incorrectly, the paperwork is likely to get messed up and getting paid can become a struggle. Instead, companies can integrate their TMS with their ERP system to automatically flow information between systems. This will ensure that documents like BOLs are correct every time. It also makes transportation professionals more efficient if they aren’t re-keying information back and forth between systems.

4. Collaborate with Carriers

By creating a way to communicate and collaborate more efficiently with carriers, companies can lower their overall freight spend on FTL shipping. Collaboration portals have become a popular way for companies and carriers to exchange information about order statuses and delays in real-time. Some even integrate with trucks’ internal ELDs or RFIDs to alert all stakeholders where the truck is at all times. Collaborating for a higher level of visibility will help companies save on detention charges, plan labor more correctly, and meet their customers’ expectations.

5. Treat Carriers Well

Besides creating a method for a heightened level of collaboration with your carriers, you should also treat them with the same respect you would any other partner. Make sure to pay your bills on time, work to get them in and out of the yard quickly, and make sure expectations are clear ahead of time (ie: who is unloading the truck). All of these actions will help you form a relationship where carriers want to do business with you. In a market where capacity is scarce, having first dibs on the best capacity will help you save money.

6. Monitor Accessorials

Accessorials are a tricky thing for most companies to manage, they’re hard to budget for and can often go unnoticed until it’s too late. In order to keep overall truckload costs down, you should be constantly monitoring and evaluating your accessorial charges. If you’re consistently being penalized for loads which are overweight, try to find the root cause and address why the carrier is being told the wrong weight. Communicating all unusual circumstances ahead of time will often lead to lower charges than if the carrier discovers them mid-trip.

7. Leverage Your Volume

As a truckload shipper, you are in a unique position to leverage your volume. Instead of working with dozens of different carriers and only giving each one a small percentage of your volume, identify your preferred carriers and establish routine, reliable lanes with them. They may be able to offer you a discounted rate based on the fact that it’s repeat business. This strategy is good for everyone involved – it helps you maintain enough capacity to ship your freight, lets the carrier plan their routes more efficiently, and results in better service to the end customer.

8. Leverage a Full Truckload Spot Market

There will always be circumstances where your regular or preferred carriers can’t fulfill a truckload you need shipped. Maybe it’s a last minute shipment or maybe it’s going to a new destination. Whatever the cause, sometimes you need to find truckload capacity fast. In these situations, it’s best to have a plan to access the spot market. Spot markets are places where companies can go to have different carriers bid on their freight. From there, they can select the best bid and book their freight. Kuebix Community Load Match is a spot market where shippers can discover additional savings on truckload freight by connecting with Kuebix’s vast broker network. If you have freight to ship and are looking for additional capacity, you can request and receive truckload quotes through Community Load Match!

9. Stay Flexible

The supply chain industry isn’t for the faint of heart. You need to be constantly ready for unforeseen events like inclement weather, mechanical failure, or anything else. Having visibility to all of your orders down to the SKU level will help companies react to situations that they can’t plan for. Having all of the information needed in one place will help companies answer questions like ‘Where’s my order?’ and ‘when is the truck arriving?’ Staying flexible doesn’t only mean reacting to negative events though. Companies should stay flexible when booking their truckload shipments too. Just because the due date on an order is a specific day doesn’t mean that there isn’t an opportunity to deliver earlier or later in the day. Work with all of your options to discover the best rates for each and every full truckload shipment. Just because ‘that’s how you’ve always done it’ doesn’t mean you can’t make a change.

10. Leverage Analytics

You’ve probably heard the saying that you can’t change what you don’t know. Tribal knowledge will only get you so far in this field. You might generally know that you’re being overcharged for a certain lane, or that a certain carrier seems to be late more often than not. Without analytics on your truckload shipments, however, it’s hard to make strategic changes. If you can see in a report that a carrier’s OTD percentage is low, you’ll be able to have a discussion with that carrier about the metrics. If you didn’t have those metrics, having that conversation would be much more one-sided. Analytics down the SKU level also helps companies calculate their freight cost per item and determine if they are making enough of a profit. With a TMS, all of these different metrics and many others are captured in one place for easy analysis.

In order to save money on truckload shipping, companies need to leverage technology to their advantage, communicate and collaborate with their external partners, and make a point of both planning ahead and reflecting on decisions made. Trends like the capacity crunch, driver shortage, and the increased popularity of e-commerce ordering aren’t going anywhere. It’s up to each company to figure out how they are going to save money on their truckload freight and turn their supply chain into a profit center.

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!

the ceos of tomorrow will have supply chain backgrounds - kuebix

The CEOs of Tomorrow Will Have Supply Chain Backgrounds

In the past, most big decisionmakers came from chief revenue officer or chief financial officer roles. In those positions they made big decisions about budgets and likely moved millions of dollars around in P&L. While those roles are important, a new contender for future title of CEO is emerging; chief supply chain officer (CSCO).

With trends like rising customer expectations, the capacity crunch, demands for real-time visibility, and the increasing need for optimization, corporate value is increasingly being driven by how well the supply chain can perform its function. Supply chain professionals are learning all the skills needed to effectively manage a large global network, work with new and emerging technologies, communicate effectively both internally and externally, and look for opportunities to eradicate waste. Effective supply chain management impacts billions of dollars in cost of goods sold and can make the difference between a profit and a loss.

Since the time of Amazon’s 2-day free shipping announcement, consumer expectations regarding shipping have been steadily rising. It’s ultimately the chief supply chain officer’s role to ensure products are getting to the end customer quickly and cheaply. CSCOs who can do this successfully will give their companies a competitive advantage and rise above the herd. To do this, they will need to have progressive ideas for change and not be afraid to innovate. Those who leverage technology like a transportation management systems (TMS) early will find that their final cost of goods is strikingly smaller than their rivals and more profit can be made.

Besides contributing to the bottom-line, supply chain professionals have a unique opportunity to cater to their consumers’ moral compasses. Ethical trends like sustainability and green shipping can make a difference between a sale and a lost opportunity. Consumers, particularly millennials, are making their shopping decisions based on more than just price and quality. They want to know that the companies they purchase from have sustainability initiatives and are working to reduce their carbon footprint. As about 80% of a company’s environmental impact can be attributed to the supply chain, the opportunity to implement truly impactful sustainability initiatives is high.

Supply chain executives face operational challenges each day that are unlike any other department within a company. Global supply chain management requires that CSCOs are highly organized and know how to work outside of their silo. Communication between procurement, finance, operations, and other departments needs to flow smoothly for deliveries to be made on time. Issues like product shortages, delays, weather, and uncommunicative external partners have to be addressed daily, making supply chain professionals highly adaptable and nimble in their work.

In the not so distant future, it’s likely that CSCOs will become top contenders for the position of CEO in their companies. A combination of corporate value impact and their expensive network forged from their supply chain work will help them rise to the top.

Technology is Mitigating Risk from Driver Fatigue

Technology is Mitigating Risk from Driver Fatigue and Distraction

Driver fatigue and distraction have long been known to be dangerous, especially for truck drivers who often work long hours. Long before the modern age of handheld technology, drivers were becoming distracted by eating behind the wheel, rummaging around in bags, or even checking their faces in the rear-view mirror for too long. Driver fatigue is especially dangerous as the driver’s full attention is no longer on the road. Distraction and fatigue are issues that some are hoping can be eliminated with the help of technology so that accidents and even deaths can be avoided.

There are two schools of thought on how issues of driver distraction and fatigue can be mitigated. Some technologies measure and act when the truck performs an action that isn’t considered safe and others monitor the driver’s own actions. Both schools of thought have their own merits and drawbacks.

Tech that Monitors the Truck

Similar to how electronic logging devices (ELDs) monitor how long the truck has been in gear and moving, there are new technologies that are measuring other aspects of the trip. Technology like that from Lytx monitors actions like weaving and hard braking. When these types of driving events occur, the system gives the driver an audible alert to let them know that not all is well. After the third such event in quick succession, the system activates a camera and saves footage 8 seconds before and 4 seconds after the event stops. That footage can then be sent off for review and any corrective action needed can be taken.

Tech that Monitors the Driver

Another type of technology that can be used instead of truck monitoring software is driver monitoring software. These new technologies are much more space age and even slightly spooky. Netradyne, a company based in San Diego, is producing a camera system which monitors the driver’s eye positioning, their horizontal and vertical head plane and yawns, and can identify drowsy or distracted driving. If any of the predefined actions indicating distracted/sleepy driving are triggered, an alert (such as a chime or a seat rumble) will occur. These alerts will become more intense with the severity of the event and are designed to be highly annoying to get the driver’s immediate attention.

Besides cameras with sensors monitoring the behavior of drivers, there are also all sort of wearables doing the same thing. Smart watches and even smart headbands are monitoring things like brainwaves, heart rate, etc. This level of tech definitely feels like it’s out of a sci-fi film!

The Future of Driver Fatigue/Distraction

Monitoring the behavior of drivers to help avoid dangerous behavior like falling asleep at the wheel or texting will help to keep our roads safe. There is still a question of which technologies will prove most useful and least invasive to individual driver’s privacy. Depending on the results, it’s likely that all trucks will soon come equipped with advanced monitoring technology like those described above. With the relative success of the ELD Mandate, it’s only a matter of time before similar action is taken to ensure driver fatigue and distraction is reduced on the roads.

holiday e-commerce kuebix

How E-Commerce Companies Cope with the Holiday Shopping Frenzy

Online shoppers, especially American ones, are particularly active during the holiday season. This year’s holiday shopping season has already eclipsed the shopping spree seen in 2017. Buying from e-commerce stores is becoming more and more popular with consumers as they become used to making purchases online on their desktops or mobile devices. Many people find online shopping to be more convenient, faster, and often cheaper when compared with traditional shopping in a store or mall. So far, e-commerce companies are generally meeting or exceeding their customer expectations, but not without a lot of forethought into their supply chains. Here are some stats on the extent of e-commerce sales in the U.S. over the holiday season:

Holiday E-Commerce Sales Facts

  •      •     Total U.S. holiday sales online hit $123.73 billion in 2018, up 16.6% YoY
  •      •     Amazon accounts for 49% of all online shopping in the United States
  •      •     Shoppers spent:
    •           $3.7 billion on Thanksgiving Day, up 27.9% YoY
    •           $6.2 billion on Black Friday up 23.6% YoY
    •           $7.9 billion on Cyber Monday up 19.3% YoY
  •      •     Shopify
  •      •     Mobile device sales overtook desktop sales in 2016 and continue to grow
  •      •     Retailers sent over 7.6 billion emails over Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  •      •     The top category for holiday shopping online was apparel with 1.42M sales

The “Amazon Effect”

Some are blaming the growth of e-commerce for the demise of large retailers like Sears and Toys ‘R Us. Many brick and mortar stores failed to adapt to changing customer expectations and embrace supply chains powered by technology. Others, like Walmart and Target, have jumped on the e-commerce bandwagon and are mirroring successful trends set by e-commerce giant Amazon such as free shipping and fast delivery. The trend of fast delivery for free is often referred to as the “Amazon Effect” and has completely revolutionized customer expectations. However, offering expedited shipping as a standard feature for free is no mean feat for any company. To do so, e-commerce companies can optimize their supply chains with the help of technology to reduce wasted costs and speed up delivery times. This is essential for companies trying to cope with the holiday shopping frenzy.

Optimized Warehouses

Even without a physical storefront, most e-commerce stores still sell a physical product that requires warehousing space. Most companies choose to pool their inbound orders at a single warehouse location before sorting and shipping individual orders out to customers. Traditional warehousing with 100% manual picking and little-to-no automation, however, can be slow and add to order processing times. A two-day order processing time isn’t viable if the entire shipping process is expected to last only two short days. To speed up selection and get orders out the dock door, especially during the seasonal spike in sales, many companies are turning to technology.

Check out this video to see how one modern grocery warehouse uses robots to pick individual orders for customers:

automated warehouse video kuebix

Receiving inbound orders on time and making sure there is a truck to take customer orders to their end destination can be something of a challenge without technology too. Dock Schedulers are helping companies optimize their dock operations and ensure there is always enough labor available to properly handle orders. With Dock Scheduler technology, external partners can easily request and view appointment times at the warehouse in real-time, so holiday orders aren’t delayed because there wasn’t a truck to pick them up.

Faster Shipping

In order for e-commerce companies to provide expedited shipping at little-to-no cost to their customers, they need to find the most efficient, least expensive rate for every shipment. Instead of rating and booking with only one carrier over phone or email, companies can easily leverage a wide network of carriers when they use a cloud-based transportation management system (TMS). With a TMS, companies can compare all their carriers’ rates side-by-side and select the one with the service level and price to fit the need. This ensures they are saving as much money as possible while still meeting customer expectations.

TMSs also provide invaluable visibility to orders down to the SKU level. This not only means that freight spend can be calculated more effectively, it also means that e-commerce companies can give their customers visibility to the status of their orders in real-time. Impatient holiday shoppers who are now accustomed to being able to track and trace their orders are more likely to be repeat customers and to self-serve from the company’s site, rather than tying up customer service phone lines asking where their orders are. With this level of visibility, companies can report on their carrier’s KPIs and leverage these analytics to improve carrier behavior and make strategic changes.

Surviving the Holidays with Technology

The 2018 holiday shopping frenzy is certainly putting the pressure on e-commerce companies trying to keep up with customer expectations. To cope with the increased pressure, companies can use technology to streamline operations in their warehouses and on the road. Staying informed of new technologies and strategically implementing them as needed will speed up companies’ supply chains and reduce waste, resulting in more profitable bottom lines and happier customers!

2019 Supply Chain Predictions Kuebix

10 Transportation & Supply Chain Predictions for 2019

As we head into 2019, the global transportation industry will continue to face complex supply chain challenges. But the new year also provides many opportunities for shippers to turn to technologies and digital transformation to improve their operations, efficiencies and bottom line profits. Here’s what we foresee:

  1. Big changes—and a more holistic, organization-wide approach—to global supply chain strategies. Tariff wars and related uncertainty/repercussions mean top-level executives are relying much more on supply chain professionals and trade compliance personnel to rethink supply chain strategy and operations. Their major strategic focus? Managing global operations risk, understanding and mitigating the role of tariffs on company financials, and dealing with ongoing business uncertainty and higher global supply chain costs.
  2. More intense focus on data analytics in supply chains. Data analytics is key for supply chain professionals looking to examine, analyze and interpret data related to supplier risk, tariff risk, logistics costs or manufacturing costs. Supply chain professionals with well-honed analytical skills and the use of advanced analytics software for mining and reporting data will continue to help organizations make informed and better decisions.
  3. China’s expanding global reach and economic power. China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) investments in the Middle East and Africa and infrastructure investments in modes including rail lines, roads, ports, bridges and even schools will help the country continue to outpace other countries’ economic expansion as they build long-term economic ties and trading partners. Its development of global trade routes means China’s economic influence is expanding even as U.S. influence begins to contract.
  4. “King Consumer” and ever-faster delivery of e-commerce orders. High consumer expectations about delivery and shipping of packages will continue to challenge retailers, carriers and logistics service providers, forcing fundamental changes to warehouse design and location and driving up wages and competition for all types of supply chain labor.
  5. Intensified technological disruption and innovation. Technological innovations like the “sharing economy,” the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, on-demand logistics and autonomous and automated equipment solutions will have great impact on supply chains around the world. Going into 2019, companies in the logistics and supply chain space will continue to take advantage of innovation in artificial intelligence, robots, freight supply and demand matching and blockchain applications to bring new efficiencies and lower supply chain costs.
  6. Battered U.S. transportation infrastructure. Buffeted and damaged by hurricanes, floods, snowstorms and the like—especially “weather events” that impact ports and major highways—the U.S. transportation infrastructure is a risk for both companies and the U.S. economy.
  7. Continued trucking/transportation regulation impacts. While most larger truck fleets have electronic logging devices (ELDs) that electronically track compliance with driver hours-of-service regulations, smaller fleets without ELDs are reporting reductions in miles traveled per day of up to 15 percent. This significant reduction can impact shippers’ planning and supply chains for 2019 and the longer term.
  8. The ongoing capacity crunch with drivers/trucks. The “capacity crunch” affecting the U.S. trucking industry will continue, due in part to fewer drivers in the “driver pool” thanks to attrition and the tight economy combined with low truck supply and high freight demand.
  9. Soaring truck rates. Rates have continued to rise steeply throughout 2018, are soaring at the end of 2018, and likely will continue to rise into 2019.
  10. Trucking industry technology trends. New technologies and apps will continue to ease the jobs of logistics professionals. On-demand load-matching freight apps are likely to be increasingly embraced by carriers and shippers. In addition, semi-autonomous trucks are finding a place in fleets and the supply chain, providing a 500-mile shipping range.

For 2019, we believe the U.S. transportation industry and supply chain professionals will place more emphasis on digitization within the supply chain to help them address these complex challenges. Kuebix TMS will continue to transform transportation operations, helping companies along their path of growth and sustainability by improving their operations, efficiencies and bottom line profits.

sustainability initiatives supply chain - kuebix

Supply Chains are Saving Money with Sustainability Initiatives

Companies are always looking to improve their bottom lines, but sustainability initiatives have up until this point remained in the “nice to have” category for many companies. The pre-conception that sustainability programs cost too much money is a notion that is being challenged, however. A new study by HSBC of more than 8,500 companies in 34 market sectors shows a trend that businesses who implement sustainability changes in their supply chains are improving their bottom lines.

Supply chains are where the majority of a company’s environmental impact occurs. Transportation of goods eats up a lot of fuel and shipping materials like shrink wrap and pallets often get thrown away. In fact, about 80% of a company’s environmental impact can be attributed to the supply chain. This makes it an obvious place to begin trimming waste.

Fuel Usage

Reducing waste and improving the bottom line go hand in hand, however. A company that wants to cut their fuel usage can consolidate multiple LTL orders into a full truckload or find the optimal route between stops with the help of technology. If truck idling time is a concern, businesses can focus on ways to improve the flow of traffic in their yards and docks. These changes are not only green, but save the company money by improving efficiency and reducing freight spend.

A Digital Paper Trail Instead of a Physical One

Gaining shipping transparency with the help of technology is another method companies can use to reduce their environmental impact. Instead of wasting time, paper, and money chasing down the status of loads and calling and booking appointments, companies can leverage transportation management technology to go paperless and speed up processes or rating, booking and tracking. Digitization trends like automation and machine learning are helping to speed this process up even further. With technology, companies can retain an organized paper trail of their order statuses instead of a disorganized literal one in their offices.

Finding Waste

Tracking and tracing technology can pinpoint areas of waste in a supply chain. A company can analyze where there are delays in their supply chain, measure their carriers’ KPIs, and make strategic optimization changes. Being able to see an order down to the SKU level from the time it leaves the dock to when it’s delivered to the customer gives companies a heightened level of understanding of their freight spend. It also means that nodes which are performing poorly can be addressed. Once issues are found and eliminated, environmental savings follow almost organically.

The Bottom Line

Consumers are becoming more and more environmentally conscious. It’s important for companies to understand what their consumers value and integrate those same principles into their day-to-day operations. Not only will sustainability initiatives help the environment, they will also streamline supply chains and contribute positively to the bottom line. More profits mean more opportunities to streamline processes, and so on. Instead of being wary of investing in sustainability initiatives, companies should consider the positive ROI they will gain and jump on the green supply chain bandwagon!

Transportation management technology like Kuebix TMS can help companies with their green initiatives. In fact, Kuebix recently won Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s Green Award for the second consecutive year. The award recognizes providers of supply chain solutions and services that assist customers in achieving measurable sustainability goals. If you’re interested in improving the efficiency of your transportation operations from both a sustainability and monetary viewpoint, check out Kuebix to find out how intelligent supply chain technology can begin you on your journey!