Uncertain Freight Rates

The Unpredictability of Spot Rates in the Changing Market

Nearly every industry relies on some manner of transportation to keep their sales flowing. Over the past decade, transportation rates have experienced a steady period of growth. A combination of recovery from the Great Recession of 2008 and consumers’ increased dependence on online shopping have kept the supply of trucking capacity at a premium. If we were sitting in an Economics 101 class, there has been plenty of demand for supply. National spot rates, which have remained high in accordance with this supply/demand formula, are becoming more volatile as market uncertainty pervades the industry.

Average daily spot market rates from August to November of 2018 have been nearly twice as erratic as spot rates during the same time-period in 2017. The DAT National Van Freight Rate Index places average daily movement in 2017 as $0.034 per mile. This number has climbed to $0.064 per mile in 2018!

The climb in average daily movement of the national rate per mile is indicative of uncertainty. Key players in the supply chain like shippers and carriers don’t have a solid grasp on market conditions and are quoting and booking rates with less foreknowledge than in the past. Things like fuel prices, driver wages, and the availability of capacity are no longer known facts. Many shippers accept rates without being able to tell what the market price should be.

Spot rates are likely to remain volatile for some time as a result of the capacity crunch and driver shortage. More and more baby-boomers are reaching retirement age, and younger workers are less likely to become truckers than past generations. This is leaving a hole in the industry and too many available positions for truck drivers, which causes wages to go up. Again, supply and demand.

Following a 10 year rise in the transportation market, we’re now in a period of cooling. According to FreightWaves, “The DAT Van Freight Index hit $2.11 per mile on June 27th, the highest rate all year. Since then the market has cooled significantly with the rates falling as low as 1.53 in the middle of October but bounced back up to 1.63 a few days later.” Volatility like this causes uncertainty for people trying to provide rates based on market pricing and for people who are uncertain what a fair price per mile is.

With customer expectations rising, there is a greater need to deliver faster with more visibility. Some companies trying to accommodate these new customer expectations are willing to take a hit to stay in their customers’ “good books.” This means they may take a loss just to meet their on-time delivery standards. This level of unpredictability is adding to uncertainty.

The transportation industry is morphing around emerging technologies and consumer expectations. One thing is for sure though, whether there is an increased or decreased demand for trucking capacity and spot rates, trucking will remain a key feature of the economy’s supply and demand curve. In this unpredictable environment, the goal is to find a comfortable middle where customers are happy and freight costs are kept down as much as possible.

Perfect Storm of Innovation

What Does the “Perfect Storm of Innovation” Mean for Your Supply Chain?

We’re living in a historic era of technology, innovation, and economic growth. Consumers expectations are rising and new technologies are upending the status quo. These two “storm fronts” are clashing together to form a “perfect storm of innovation” which is shaking up the supply chain industry. Between customers’ empowerment to get exactly what they want and a diverse and expanding realm of digitally connected smart technology, companies can be left feeling lost in the storm. However, with a little foresight, companies can navigate these new straights and position themselves for success in this brave new world.

Customer Expectations

In the modern age, if a customer is dissatisfied with a purchase, they don’t just complain to the store manager or forget about it. Instead, they might take to social media to lament their experience. This can be a huge hurdle for any company to overcome. Social media is a double-edged sword. If used correctly, however, social media can be a huge asset to a company.

Taking a personal approach to customer service can help with dissatisfied customers. Whether you are replying to a negative tweet or responding to a direct call to your support team, the customer no longer needs to put up with poor service. It’s a buyer’s market, and consumers can easily move their loyalty to a competitor. Consider leveraging tools like automatic chat on your website and providing them self-help visibility to the status of their orders.

Visibility is a huge buzzword in the supply chain industry right now. Giving your customers visibility means being able to show them where their orders are when their orders are going to be delivered, and being able to explain any delays in transit. To be able to give your customers this level of insight, however, you first need to have visibility to your entire supply chain. Technology like a transportation management system (TMS) with advanced tracking capabilities can give you this.

With a TMS you can view the status of any order at any stage of the supply chain and even have automatic alerts sent to you when something goes wrong, that way you can proactively warn your customers. Customer loyalty can be developed through proactive and personal communication and you can even turn what would likely have been a negative experience for your customer into a positive one.

Technology

Technology and managing customer expectations go hand in hand. If consumer preferences stayed the same, there would be no reason to modernize your supply chain to meet changing expectations. Customers are demanding more and more customization of their purchases. Companies can leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect the moving pieces of their supply chain and compile Big Data about their operations to analyze and make strategic improvements.

Some companies are going as far as to employ 3D printing or additive manufacturing techniques to accommodate this new demand for customization and to help with the cost of R&D. Mass-customization is taking the place of mass-production, and supply chains and manufacturers need to be nimble and react to feedback from customers quickly.

Speed of delivery is another hot-button issue for consumers which can be solved with the help of technology. To keep up with mega-giants like Amazon which dominate the e-commerce market, companies need to offer faster shipping at greatly reduced or free rates. To do this, companies can leverage technology to find and book freight with the most cost-effective carriers at the best service levels. With a transportation management system, you should be able to compare several modes, such as air, LTL, or TL to find the carrier that can meet the customer’s expectations. TMS technology can also help companies improve the flow of their inbound and outbound operations to reduce delays in the yard and speed final mile delivery.

It’s anticipated that drone technology will eventually take over as a main method of delivering orders to individual customers. That isn’t quite a reality at this time, but companies can already leverage drone and robotic technology in their warehousing processes. GPS technology, sensors, and RFID tags can improve operations in the warehouse and streamline the movement of individual orders.

The Eye of the Storm

Many companies are struggling to keep pace with changing consumer expectations and new technological advancements. These companies should take a step back and review how they can leverage technology to meet the needs of their customers. Consider social media as an asset as well as the power of giving customers end-to-end visibility to their orders. Think about ways to speed up the supply chain by finding and capitalizing on different carrier rates and service levels. Can additional technology in the warehouse improve selection times? Companies who get ahead of customer expectations by leveraging technology will find the eye of the innovation storm and be able to benefit from the changes taking place in the industry!

ELD Mandate - Kuebix

10 Months Later – The Impact of the ELD Mandate

The transportation industry, which originally balked at the idea of the ELD mandate, has now had 10 months to come to terms with the new technology requirements. The mandate, which went into effect on April 1st of this year, requires trucks to be equipped with an electronic logging device (ELD) to automatically record a truck’s driving time. This ensures that drivers are strictly obeying hours of service requirements put in place to protect them and other drivers.

10 months in and transportation professionals still seem to have mixed feelings about the ELD mandate. To capture how the industry is reacting, Zipline Logistics’ carrier team surveyed over 150 trucking companies to get their opinions on the ELD mandate and how it’s impacted the industry. FreightWaves compiled these results into this detailed infographic:

ELD Mandate - Kuebix - FreightWaves

According to the research, trucking companies are split on whether ELDs improve safety. About 60% of respondents felt that ELDs increased safety since the mandate went into effect, while the remaining 40% thought the devices decreased safety.

77% of carriers surveyed reported that they are more selective in the shippers/receivers that they are willing to work with after the mandate. 80% of these say there are now some facilities they will absolutely not load out of. Slightly more than half of carrier respondents say they have changed how long they will wait at a shipper/receiver. With hours of service being monitored more closely, there is no longer much wiggle-room for delays or partners who cannot maintain high KPIs.

Whether or not freight costs increased was another main question of Zipline Logistics’ survey. 48% of carriers say that linehaul rates have increased due to the requirement for ELDs, though 33% felt that ELDs weren’t at fault for rate increases. It seems to be a consensus, at 71%, that per mile rates have increased due to ELDs.

What can be done to keep ELDs from disrupting supply chains?

Equipping all trucks with electronic logging devices has been a hurdle for many in the transportation industry. Now that the mandate is in effect, devices are installed, and drivers are successfully using them, it’s time to think about how to leverage them to your best advantage.

Transportation management technology like Kuebix TMS can help companies achieve higher levels of visibility across their entire supply networks. This level of visibility will help them plan ahead to avoid facilities that are too slow to load/unload and choose carriers that have excellent service levels and on-time delivery metrics. The ELD mandate doesn’t have to be a detractor for companies shipping freight, with the right strategies in place, ELDs can actually serve to improve operations and keep drivers safe on the road.

General Motors GM

GM Closes Assembly Plants, Shifts Focus from Cars to Technology

General Motors (GM) announced today that the company will be completely restructuring their global business strategy by closing 8 assembly plants worldwide and shifting focus to futuristic technologies. Five of the plants which will be closing are in North America. Fifteen percent of GM’s salaried workforce is being cut including 25% of top executive positions. These changes are expected to save the company $6 billion by the end of 2020.

In the short term, this announcement is seen as a major blow to workers who will be out of a job by the end of 2019. It will also be a blow to an American-born industry which GM has been a cornerstone of for generations. In the long term, however, GM seems to be positioning itself to react to changing market conditions such as consumer preferences and the need for improved technology.

According to Mary Barra, CEO of GM, General Motors “recognizes the need to stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success.” The popularity of sedans is waning with consumers, though anticipation is high for self-driving vehicles and cars with other state-of-the-art technologies.

GM threw its hat in the self-driving car ring with its acquisition of Cruise in March 2016. Cruise is a driverless car company which is headquartered in San Francisco, CA. It’s competing to be the first company in Silicon Valley to successfully make and market a self-driving vehicle to American consumers. Top contenders for the company to make self-driving cars a reality for the public include companies like Google, Apple, and Tesla. GM has announced that it will spend $1 billion on Cruise in the upcoming year to build the car of the future.

Some speculate that rising costs associated with tariffs on imported steel and aluminum have contributed to GM’s decision to close many of its American plants. Commodity costs for GM have risen by $300 million in Q3 of 2018 and are anticipated to raise costs by $1 billion next year. Closing plants and reducing their headcount will work to counter-balance changing consumer tastes and higher commodity prices.

General Motors has a new motto to go along with its change in corporate strategy, “Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions, Zero Congestion.” This new slogan incorporates three of the top concerns drivers have when they weigh the decision to purchase a car. Automation technology and green technology will help to cut down on these negative side effects.

The question remains whether GM’s closure of 8 assembly plants worldwide to put a renewed focus on developing technology will make or break a company steeped in history. If their bid to be one of the first companies to go-to-market with their own self-driving car or a car with zero emissions, the dramatic switch in focus could skyrocket GM’s sales. However, the company walks a fine line between preparing for the future and turning away an American public which has long since regarded GM as a traditional car company.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday - Kuebix

Are You Ready for Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2018?

Black Friday is just around the corner—November 23rd—followed by Cyber Monday on the 26th. These are huge shopping days for U.S. consumers: Last year sales reached $7.9 billion, an 18% increase over the previous year, while Cyber Monday earned retailers $6.6 billion.

But where did these holidays get their start?

•     A pre-Thanksgiving shopping day has been around since the 1940s and 1950s. But the Black Friday moniker first appeared 1966, when the Philadelphia Police Department used the name to describe traffic jams and crowding in downtown stores the day following Thanksgiving.

•     The term Cyber Monday was coined in 2005 by Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation, as a “catchy hook” to match the brick-and-mortar shopping frenzy fueled by mention of Black Friday savings. Preferred by consumers due to convenience, Cyber Monday sales have been aided by the rise of reliable and expedited delivery and high levels of product availability.

Today—whether shopping in-store or online—consumers still want to save. The National Retail Federation and other sources note that a preference for discounts keeps the days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday top shopping days for customers as retailers continue to roll out exclusive deals:

     •     $2 billion will be spent the day before Black Friday. Last year, $93 billion dollars were spent online. With conservative estimates pin Thanksgiving online revenue at about $2 billion, it will still be one of the more popular days of the year.

     •     $2 billion on Thanksgiving shows that peak day revenue is being distributed across the surrounding days. Similar revenue will likely be generated across the Saturday and Sunday leading up to Cyber Monday, where nearly $4 billion is expected to be spent and 36% of customers will only purchase items on sale.

Getting ready for the big demand

This massive glut of orders can tax retailers’ logistics systems, but there are several steps you can take to ensure better preparedness and meet demand over this concentrated period:

     •     Ensure your inventory is in place. A platform that brings all product information together–from ordering and inventory, to temperature monitoring and transit, and expense allocation—helps you to manage your requirements in one place, ensuring inventory is in the right place at the right time.

     •     Use a transportation management system (TMS) to schedule your shipments. A well-designed TMS lets you share your predicted shipment schedule with carriers—helping them to schedule their resources—as well as letting you quickly locate capacity with your contracted carriers to stay ahead of demand and effortlessly compare your contracted rates to the spot market to find the best rate.

     •     Ramp up your insights for better Black Friday/Cyber Monday logistics results in the future. With the right tools, you can look at historical shipment data to find areas for improvement for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping crunches you’ll face in 2019 and far beyond.

A little planning goes a long way when it comes to avoiding expedited freight charges and optimizing your logistics operations during these two critical holiday shopping periods. This is a great time to ensure you have the capacity you need at your fingertips when you need it so that you can easily meet customers’ demanding shipping expectations and nail down your brand’s integrity

On Demand Trucking - Kuebix

Status of On-Demand Trucking

The U.S. transportation market is quickly ramping up technology-enhanced options to move products, goods and people: According to The Wall Street Journal, Lyft is planning an IPO in early 2019. Meanwhile, Uber received proposals from banks valued at $120 billion in their IPO, and Uber Technologies Inc. is loading up on trailers to raise its standing in the freight business and boost its profit via its Powerloop trailer leasing division.

What’s driving the growth of U.S. on-demand trucking?

It’s no wonder there’s such a big demand for on-demand trucking. The tight U.S. job market, changing import/export levels and new technology have all combined to speed the shift to on-demand trucking:

  • Capacity crunch. In recent years, lack of trucks and a scarcity of drivers-for-hire have combined with high freight demand to severely restrict U.S. trucking capacity/availability.
  • Electronic logging devices (ELDs). Federally mandated ELDs closely scrutinize and monitor drivers to be sure they follow hours of service (HOS) laws, which can impact driver productivity.
  • Rising spot and contract rates. Trucking rates continue to rise while capacity remains tight, driving some shippers to move portions of their freight to intermodal transportation or “rail.”
  • Trucking apps. New apps are taking center stage: Uber Freight’s app operates much like its ride-sharing service. Both Convoy and Amazon have apps that target on-demand freight, as well, matching trucking companies with shippers who have freight that needs to move. This “at-your-fingertips” flexibility means shippers have flexible options for meeting their trucking needs; carriers can choose higher- and faster-paying freight.
  • Rising interest rates. Higher rates mean higher costs for transporting goods, so shippers are best served by choosing their best transportation options.

How does on-demand trucking work?

On-demand trucking has a bright future for freight and transportation management and load matching:

  • Provides a broad network of real-time carriers. This is not the old days of contracting with carriers to lock in capacity months or even years in advance: The capacity just isn’t there. On-demand trucking apps and spot markets let shippers connect with thousands of independent “owner-operator” drivers with empty truck space to sell.
  • Leverages technology to handle settlements. Real-time freight visibility is important, of course, but it’s just as important to ensure driver certification and timely, accurate freight pick-up and delivery and settlement processing. Having a transportation management system (TMS) connect directly to the asset (driver) through a platform that provides access to drivers and ensures drivers’ certification and compliance–as well as manages the settlement through an Uber-like payment configuration–can be a great way to simplify and streamline your business.
  • Focuses on getting shippers normal or “specialized” capacity on a transactional basis. Unlike dealing with large, asset-based carriers, the Uberization of freight means shippers can connect with drivers who offer capacity and even specialized freight treatment—like refrigeration–on back-hauls, making it a win-win for shippers and carriers.

On-demand trucking offers shippers a proven and flexible way of conducting their business, with real-time visibility over truck assets and a simpler way to access settlement, liability and other functions via a single interface. Read how recent innovations in web service technology mean shippers can get direct carrier rates, POD and BOL images, online shipment scheduling, and real-time status updates from all carriers on one platform to optimize shipment, financial and customer relationship management and ensure better freight intelligence.

Sensata Case Study Video

Sensata Technologies – Case Study Using Kuebix TMS

By leveraging Kuebix TMS to schedule their shipments, Sensata now has much more control and accountability over their freight management. Everything is done through a centralized location, which creates much more efficient processes throughout their network. Sensata has been able to see real-time costs and real-time delivery information, leading to significant cost savings. Analytics help them make strategic operational choices and negotiate better rates with their carriers. In addition, service to Sensata’s clients has improved since Kuebix was implemented. Now they can see what their options are to get the material to the customer on time.

Watch this quick case study video featuring Janelle Ballerstedt, Sensata Technologies’ Global Logistics TMS Manager.

Managing Time Critical Shipments

6 Ways to Manage Time Critical Shipments

Amazon has instilled a new mindset into the wants of consumers today – they want their orders immediately, in a day or two, instead of next week. And often they want them shipped for free.

Plus, businesses may need to utilize time-critical services to guarantee the velocity they need to meet a customer’s deadline or when handling specialty items like medical supplies that have a certain expiration date.

Pharmaceutical companies have the need for speed when it comes to transporting drugs for medical emergencies. Companies shipping high-value items or potentially dangerous goods look to time-critical shipments to gain tighter control. Manufacturers may use time-critical services to get parts to an assembly line to avoid shutting down the line.

With this in mind, shippers are turning to technology to help them manage their time-critical shipments. Here are 6 ways you can manage shipments that require a definite arrival time:

•     Communicate with carriers about your time-critical shipment requirements by giving them forecasts of these shipments as early as possible. This helps carriers better manage their capacity, ensuring your shipment has a place on their truck when it is needed.

•     Ensure your freight is packaged correctly to avoid damage. Use the right packaging for your items and if palletized, make sure that you stack heaviest to lightest items vertically and then shrink wrap them. This will keep the packages intact and make for easier handling.

•     Label packages properly so that the information on each part of the shipment matches the Bill of Lading. If there are discrepancies on the documentation, this can delay the shipment.

•     Leverage a transportation management system (TMS) to schedule your shipments. to gaining visibility to shipments in process so if any issues arise, you will know what they are and can best create contingency plans. Being able to see where your shipment is at any time gives you peace of mind that your customers are being taken care of.

•     Use a TMS that allows you to automatically connect your carriers for any mode so that you can view and compare rates side-by-side to choose the best rate and service level. The ability to choose any mode helps you discern which mode can best meet your timeline for shipments.

•     Access the spot market if you can’t find the delivery services you need from your contracted carriers. A strong network of thousands of shippers and carriers extends the reach to find capacity, allowing shippers to leverage their existing rates and relationships or find new opportunities via the spot market.

Managing time-critical shipments is not just about getting a shipment to its destination on time. Many carriers also offer special handling, extra security and track/trace capabilities that go along with time-critical services. While time-critical services may cost more, the extra benefits can mitigate the risk of a lost or delayed shipment, while making sure you are able to give your customers what they need.

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Kuebix - Future of Retail

Future of Retail – A Story

Once upon a time, there was a place where children could find all kinds of toys to delight their little hearts. It was called Toys ‘R Us, but it went out of business this year.

Then there was a place where adults could find all kinds of toys, such as power saws and paint, to wet their desire for home improvements. It was called Sears, but it filed for bankruptcy in 2018 and is closing many of its stores while undergoing a redirection.

Other retailers have filed for bankruptcy or closed hundreds of stores in an effort to improve profits. Some will succeed; others won’t. The list includes popular brands like Gap, Banana Republic, Claire’s, J. Crew, Abercrombie & Fitch, J.C. Penney, Foot Locker, Brookstone and many others.

In 2017, more than 5000 stores were closed and another 5000 store closures have been announced so far this year. (https://clark.com/shopping-retail/major-retailers-closing-2018). Is the future of retail a dim outlook?

We don’t think so. Once Toys ‘R Us closed its doors, retailers like Target and Walmart saw an opportunity to try to grab some of the $3 billion left on the table in the US toy market instead of acknowledging that Amazon had won. According to Manufacturing.Net, “Party City opened 50 Toy City pop-up shops,” and “Walmart says 30 percent of its holiday toy assortment will be new. It will also offer 40 percent more toys on Walmart.com from a year ago. In November and December, the company’s toy area will be rebranded as ‘America’s Best Toy Shop.’”

In essence, retail is not dead; it is just changing. Retailers who want to compete against Amazon will need to up their game and create engaging customer experiences, both online and in brick and mortar stores. Forbes magazine says, “Physical retail is not dead. Boring retail is.” As an example, FAO Schwartz will reopen its Manhattan store (which closed 3 years ago), using theatrical performers as staff and areas for kids to build radio-controlled cars with the help of a mechanic.

Beyond the customer experience, retailers need to better manage their inventory so that all channels have a centralized view of it to avoid out-of-stocks. Retailers will have to have faster inventory turns to keep products fresh for consumers. They will also need to improve their transportation operations to better compete with Amazon, who just announced free shipping during the holiday season with no minimum purchase on hundreds of millions of items.

The story can have a happy ending. A robust transportation management system can help retailers better compete with improved efficiencies and optimized processes. Kuebix TMS is available to any size company. Contact us to find out more.

Kuebix Collaboration Portals Blog

Time to Hang Up the Phone – Business Collaboration is Moving to the Cloud!

Technology is changing the way we do business every day. Traditionally, companies with freight to ship have collaborated with their external partners over the phone, booking appointments, asking for shipment statuses and updating order information. With the rise of email, these companies have begun to manage their logistics operations over the internet with greater frequency. In America, “an average office worker receives 121 emails a day and sends around 40 business emails daily.” (Templafy) That number is likely far higher for those folks scheduling and booking freight.

Email is still a complicated method to manage freight operations, however, given that it’s up to each individual to organize their own inboxes and ensure all emails are acted upon. If a company’s orders never change, promise dates are always 100% accurate, the warehouse or distribution center runs like a finely oiled machine and email and phone communication seems to be enough, there would be no need to improve collaboration with the suppliers and carriers. In reality, most companies are struggling to achieve visibility and control over their supply chains to effectively manage their cost of goods and consistently meet the expectations of customers. For this reason, collaboration portals are becoming more widely used to facilitate communication and collaboration between internal departments, suppliers and carriers.

A collaboration portal is a cloud-based platform where internal and external users can communicate a variety of information in an easy-to-use and convenient manner. These portals enable procurement and logistics departments to work together with their suppliers (vendors) and carriers to dynamically plan and execute their logistics operations collaboratively, maximizing communication between all parties. Instead of trying to maintain a cluttered inbox or disjointed spreadsheet, all information is stored within the portal.

How do collaboration portals help companies communicate with suppliers?

Collaboration portals allow users to communicate with their suppliers on a common platform. This reduces the risk of manual errors and oversights, as well as increases time savings. Procurement and logistics departments can release orders out to their suppliers, and receive back promise dates, statuses on order changes or short shipments and confirmations on POs approved for shipment. Collaboration portals also provide a way for suppliers to easily access shipping documents produced by the customer including parcel labels and BOLs. All of these interactions are documented in the portal and can be referenced to troubleshoot incorrect deliveries and other issues as they arise.

How do collaboration portals help companies communicate with carriers?

Collaboration portals enable carriers to view and update the information which the main user and suppliers are accessing. In the portal, carriers can confirm delivery dates on inbound shipments as well as make changes to shipment schedules. This allows buyers and logistics professionals to always have visibility to the delivery status of their orders. And by implementing a dock scheduling portal in tandem with a collaboration portal, companies can give carriers the ability to schedule appointments directly at their docks. This level of collaboration ensures that the highest level of visibility is always being achieved.

By collaborating in the cloud with external partners, companies can experience an increase in inbound shipping efficiency, gain complete visibility to shipments and shipment schedules, and help their partners plan more effectively.

Learn more about Kuebix’s modular Collaboration Portals here!

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!