ELD Mandate Kuebix

Minimizing the Impact of the ELD Mandate

On April 1st of this year, strict regulation of the electronic logging device (ELD) rule came into effect after a 3-month grace period. The mandate requires the use of an ELD to automatically record a truck’s driving time to more accurately record a driver’s hours of service (HoS). The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration states that the restricted HoS were put into place to combat an increased risk of crashes and chronic health conditions associated with lack of sleep. This mandate however, which is forcing immense changes for the industry, has been met with adversity.

Trucking companies are reporting that some truckers are even going so far as to leave the industry rather than use an ELD. In the past, many drivers were concerned about foul weather, accidents or long detention times because of the potential to miss their next delivery or a desire to return home. Now, any form of unexpected delay could put that driver over his HoS and force him to stop for the night. This eats steadily into productivity and profit margins for drivers being paid by the trip. With the new ELD mandate, there is no way for drivers to omit uncontrollable delays such as Acts of Nature from their logs which could put them over their HoS. In the past, a shipper might have taken a 5-6 hour run, made a delivery, picked up a new load and then returned home. Now, that same driver would have to secure overnight parking to avoid violating the 11-hour daily driving limit. These mandates serve to make the roads safer for all drivers but put additional pressure on an industry already strapped for capacity.

What else is causing the capacity crisis?

•     The economy is requiring more trucks on the road as both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores’ sales continue to be strong

•     Gen-Xers and Millennials are not filling trucking jobs vacated by Boomers at a fast-enough rate

•     Inbound deliveries are often late due to congestion in the yard or at the dock

•     Traffic, weather and accidents on the road result in wasted, otherwise productive, time

The ELD mandate has put a spotlight on the HoS issue for the entire industry. Already facing a capacity crisis, it is more important than ever that shippers maintain total control over their supply chains to ensure deliveries are made on time and any issues are dealt with as soon as they occur. There is very little an individual shipper can do to encourage younger entrants into the job market to become truckers and, of course, nothing should be done to depress the flow of goods within the marketplace. Therefore, a shipper’s only option to effectively combat the capacity crisis is to streamline their own supply chain processes.

What can shippers do to minimize the effects of the ELD mandate?

•     Reduce the number of inbound deliveries entering their facilities through consolidation

•     Speed-up driver turn-around in their yards with dock scheduling and order management tools

•     Communicate effectively on promise dates, notifications and issues as they arise

The ELD mandate is a new part of the shipping industry that will have a big impact on how freight is shipped. In order to comply with the regulations without being negatively impacted by HoS limitations, shippers should leverage the power of transportation technology to improve their operations. With the help of a TMS, a shipper can identify the optimal carriers for their freight and hold those carriers to a high standard of execution. In addition, a TMS can consolidate LTL freight into FTLs whenever possible. Time-slot appointments can be secured by leveraging a dock scheduling solution, reducing driver waiting times. These improvements and many others can reduce the number of trucks on the road, saving money and speeding-up yard flow. Once a more streamlined operation is established, shippers can rest assured that their drivers will be set up for success.

Learn more about Kuebix’s Dock Scheduler, Order and Route Optimizer, and other Premier Applications that help shippers become more efficient and minimize the impact of the ELD mandate.

Kuebix Earth Day Sustainability

Meet Sustainability Goals with the Help of a TMS

U.S. Senator Gaylord Wilson, from Wisconsin, witnessed the effects of a massive oil spill along the California coast in 1969, motivating him to bring attention to the environment. He established the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. It was wildly popular, sparking national interest, so popular that Congress established the US Environmental Protection Agency and passed the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act that same year.

Since Earth Day began, it has expanded globally to over 192 countries – all working together to raise awareness for sustainability and protection of the Earth. The 50th Anniversary of Earth Day will take place two years from now on April 22, 2020. Click this link to be a part of the Earth Day Network’s mission to broaden, diversify, and mobilize the international environmental movement.

Logistics is at the heart of the U.S. economy, without shipping our country would come to a standstill. The majority of American businesses rely heavily on an enormous amount of diesel fuel each year. According to the ATA (American Trucking Associations)

Fuel Consumption –

·     3 billion gallons of fuel consumed by those trucks used for business purposes in 2016

          ·     8 billion gallons of diesel fuel

          ·     5 billion gallons of gasoline

·     The trucking industry spent $105.2 billion buying diesel fuel in 2015

·     Diesel fuel is often the second highest expense for motor carriers after labor and can be as much as 20% of total operating costs.

Not only is fuel an expensive commodity for companies to purchase, it also has huge implications for the environment. Shippers can have a real impact on CO2 emissions by reducing the amount of fuel they consume. One of the easiest ways for companies to achieve this is to ensure that their trucks are always as full as possible, and their delivery routes are optimized.

Kuebix is helping shippers meet their sustainability goals by facilitating the consolidation of LTL shipments into FTLs when possible. SupplierMAX, Kuebix’s program for streamlining inbound operations, helps shippers standardize a set of carriers to enable loads to be consolidated as a regular practice. An excessive number of inbound deliveries leads to higher emissions, greater idling times and increased unloading costs. Fewer trucks on the road means a decrease in fuel consumption and overall lower costs. It’s a win for suppliers, shippers and the environment!

Shippers can do their part to improve air quality by reducing the number of trucks they have on the road. A robust transportation management system like Kuebix TMS helps to facilitate the creation of an optimized transportation strategy. To honor Earth Day 2018, any shipper can begin to meet their sustainability goals by improving their supply chain efficiency with the help of Kuebix TMS.

Team process visibility

Driving Collaboration Through Visibility

According to Supply Chain Insights, supply chain visibility comes in as one of the top “elements of business pain in supply chain.” Why is visibility within the supply chain such a big challenge?

First, there are many players involved, from suppliers to producers, manufacturers, shippers, carriers and end customers. Next, add more complexities to the mix: globalization, customer expectations, volatile demand and mounting regulations. These factors create a messy and complicated environment for supply chain professionals trying to see what is happening up and down their entire network of stakeholders.

What is needed is end-to-end supply chain visibility.

To facilitate visibility, all stakeholders need to use a common platform that allows them to plan their moves, receive alerts to changes as they occur, see every status update made, and make real time adjustments to keep the supply chain moving smoothly and the customer happy. By sharing a single common system, suppliers can plan inventory levels more effectively to offer better customer service. Carriers can move shipments in and out more efficiently, making their operations more cost effective and the customer can improve the management of their inbound operations and warehouse.

What is this common platform?

It is a cloud-based collaborative portal, like that offered by Kuebix TMS, that can be accessed by all stakeholders from any device and from any location. This single platform serves as a dynamic record of truth for all the changes that occur across the supply chain, keeping the delivery of goods moving efficiently.

First, a purchase order is made.  Suppliers look at the portal and plan production and inventory schedules to meet customer demand. Suppliers will notify their customers through the collaboration portal which deliveries they can make on time and which need to be back-ordered due to low stock.

When suppliers commit to a promise date, customers can look at the portal to plan their business based on delivery dates. If the customer has chosen to pick up the order using their own carrier, the supplier can print shipping labels for those orders directly from the portal. Because every stakeholder is referencing the same information via a collaborative portal, they have immediate access to everything they need to make informed decisions and plan their supply chain.

Carriers can provide updates on the status of their deliveries through the collaboration portal as well. If carriers are using electronic logging devices (ELDs), customers and suppliers can visibly track the real-time status of their delivery. Dock scheduling solutions like Kuebix’s allow carriers to see open time slots and locations at the dock, empowering carriers to reserve an appropriate time for delivery so they are not left idling in the yard.

Part of the backbone of visibility and collaboration is a set of rules and procedures that suppliers and carriers need to follow. These procedures on yard, safety, consolidations, etc. promote proper supplier and carrier behavior and ensure the most efficient operation. Any violations which occur are shown in the portal, so all parties know the status of issues and can work together to address them. This provides a heightened level of visibility and accountability for all stakeholders.

Kuebix TMS provides supply chain professionals the visibility they need to maximize efficiencies, minimize costs and improve customer service. Working together via a collaboration portal is a win-win-win for suppliers, carriers and shippers.

Other inbound logistics management best practices to improve visibility can be found in The Art of the Inbound.

Imported Steel and Aluminum Tariffs

“My business is booming,” said one of our clients in the steel and metal industry. Another commented that “my business is through the roof!” We weren’t sure why until we asked, “What’s the big deal?”

It appears that steel and aluminum manufacturers, producers and distributors are enjoying a boost in revenues thanks to the tariffs on imported steel and aluminum that Trump is imposing. As a result, many of the companies that rely on metals affected by these tariffs aren’t sure what will happen, so they are stocking up on raw materials, parts and components.

The new tariffs will impose a 25 percent price increase on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum to protect national economic security, effective March 23. The plan has been widely criticized by government officials and corporate America who feel the tariffs will cost U.S. jobs, raise consumer prices and hit American manufacturers.

Other countries are threatening trade wars. The EU has warned it will impose a 25 percent tariff on the $3.5 billion of American goods that it imports. Trump’s next move is to impose tariffs on up to $60 million of Chinese imports of technology, telecommunications and apparel.

Many businesses feel that a cost increase is on the way and will likely be pushed down through the supply chain to other businesses like beverages and automobiles. Some US companies that use steel and aluminum in their products may reduce production in the US in favor of foreign production where they can avoid cost increases. Other policymakers think that US manufacturers will no longer have to compete with foreign materials and can instead charge higher prices.

Since many aren’t sure what will really happen as a result of the tariffs, they are building up inventory levels, buying raw materials and stocking up on parts to keep ahead of price increases or lack of materials.

Instead of worrying about stocking up on inventory, Kuebix believes that a greater focus on reducing supply chain costs is needed. As transportation is one of the biggest expenses for a company, often up to 40%, ways to lower logistics costs while boosting efficiencies are a must in this uncertain economic environment.

By leveraging Kuebix TMS, retailers and manufacturers can quickly and easily receive better rates for any transportation mode. Our free TMS, Kuebix Shipper, can even be up-and-running the same day, so companies can immediately begin offsetting costs by receiving lower rates. And by upgrading to add modular features to optimize routes and consolidate loads from LTL to FTL where possible, companies can cut down on the total cost of goods and put money back into other needs, such as raw material purchasing.

Logistics professionals uncertain about the future of steel and aluminum imports can improve their companies’ outlook by utilizing technology to cut costs.

Kuebix Recognized by Gartner with First-Time Positioning in 2018 Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems

Thoroughly vetting the capabilities of different providers is a monumental task most companies undertake before choosing to integrate new technology into their business. For supply chain companies, this is of paramount importance, as transportation management software (TMS) can make or break a company in terms of service to the customer, cost of goods and efficiency. Luckily, Gartner, Inc. is an indispensable asset that business leaders can turn to for guidance and objective insight when making these onerous decisions. Each year, Gartner publishes the Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems, an unbiased analysis that logistics professionals can leverage to understand the TMS marketplace. This year, Kuebix has the great honor of being positioned in the 2018 Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems*.

“We are pleased to be recognized by Gartner in the 2018 Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems. We believe this acknowledgement is due to our rapid market growth and comprehensive enterprise solution,” commented Dan Clark, Kuebix Founder and President. “We feel that our large enterprise customers have found that Kuebix offers a best-in-class, modular solution delivered by a team of industry experts committed to their success. In our view, inclusion in this year’s Magic Quadrant further validates our mission and will help us spread the word to companies everywhere.”

We believe what sets Kuebix apart is:

·       Rapid implementations

·       Modular solution that expands with a customer’s needs

·       True cloud-based multi-tenant solution built on the Force.com platform

·       Low total cost of ownership

·       Premier Applications for optimization, collaboration, visibility and much more

·       Unique managed service programs include inbound and fleet optimization

·       Most importantly, our customers are raving about Kuebix.

Read what they have to say:

“Best TMS on the Planet…Kuebix” -Logistics Manager on Gartner Peer Insights

Get the 2018 Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems

*Gartner “Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems” by Bart De Muynck. March 2018.

Gartner Disclaimer

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

The Evolution of E-Commerce

The e-Commerce industry is booming, and this has caused many organizations to overhaul their transportation operations due to the high volume of small orders that require Amazon-like delivery times. Logistics managers are having to get creative to find capacity for the exponential amount of trucks needed to make deliveries to/from warehouses, stores and customers’ homes. Retailers, distributors, suppliers and manufacturers need innovative and robust solutions to beat the competition and create a sustainable edge.

In a recent Logistics Management article titled, “Evolution of E-commerce: The possibilities of tomorrow,” the writer, Roberto Michel, interviewed several thought leaders and industry analysts about the trends and solutions that should be of interest to industry leaders.

In the article, Kuebix’s own Dan Clark was quoted discussing how to combat issues caused by the boom in e-commerce, which is tightening truck capacity even more. “To deal with this challenge, companies need to find all possible transport opportunities, such as tapping into otherwise empty backhauls. The name of the game is capacity,” says Clark. “You need systems that allow you to be exposed to as many capacity opportunities as possible.”

“According to Clark, a TMS should be adept at connecting to multiple freight matching marketplaces and online logistics communities so that the shipper organization can match orders with capacity from more brokers, small independent trucking firms and fleet operators. ‘You need to be able to quickly access all of those potential opportunities and match your loads with that capacity,’ he says.”

“Of course, TMS still needs good analytics and planning logic, especially when it comes to what Clark calls ‘deconstructing’ truckloads into less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments to see if breaking orders into LTL moves makes sense for both service level and costs.”

As e-commerce has evolved, new processes, trends and technologies have kept pace to facilitate the journey, including:

  • ·       Platooning, which is a group of trucks driven in a tight formation with a human driver in the lead truck and the other trucks driverless.
  • ·       Supply chain control towers that give visibility to supply chain operations combined with predictive analytics to provide even more information for better decision-making.
  • ·       Digitization of freight forwarding with cloud-based access to freight rates, quotes, etc.
  • ·       Distributed Order Management for centralized control of inventory and order processing.
  • ·       Blockchain to improve tracking and tracing of products through the supply chain.
  • ·       Predictive analytics with machine learning and AI recommended solutions to problems and answer “what-if” questions for advanced analytics.
  • ·       New transport modes such as the hyperloop for high-speed transport.
  • ·       Multi-carrier parcel software integrates with TMS and WMS for added functionality.
  • ·       Dynamic routing for real-time tracking and route optimization of fleets.
  • ·       Automated vehicle technology that powers driverless trucks.

Another trend that Dan discussed in the article was about last-mile deliveries, saying, “The growth of e-commerce is driving greater need for efficiency in last-mile delivery. For last-mile carriers, they’ll want to be able to closely track where their driver and truck assets are and match that knowledge to shipment opportunities coming from brokers and online logistics communities. Through such ‘digital matching’ of assets to deliveries, carriers can find backhauls and make operations more cost efficient. Over the longer term, the last-mile challenge in urban areas will also be addressed by the build-up of new types of warehouses or means of last-mile distribution. This might involve older shopping malls being converted to warehouse space, or new approaches such as AVs that act as mobile warehouses. I think absolutely that we’ll see some new approaches in dense metro areas, because there needs to be enough space close to population centers to hold the inventory needed for same-day deliveries.”

The Future of Freight: Why We Launched a Free Transportation Management System (TMS)

The Future of Freight: Why We Launched a Free Transportation Management System (TMS)

In October of 2017, Kuebix launched its free transportation management system (TMS), Kuebix Free Shipper. This platform offers unlimited rating, booking and tracking of TL, LTL, and parcel freight. It was the first step in the evolution of transportation management systems.

Why it’s Important

In the past, it was common practice to manage freight with spreadsheets and other manual processes or outsource to third-party logistics providers, both of which soaked up vast amounts of valuable time and money. With Kuebix Free Shipper, businesses of any size have the opportunity to streamline operations with a single cloud-based platform, removing room for potential miscommunication and monotonous tasks.

Bart De Muynck, Vice President of transportation technology research at Gartner, says that “Transportation management systems (TMS) have become the ‘must have’ for companies that – working under the pressure of e-commerce and omni-channel – need to move beyond clipboards, spreadsheets, and phone calls.”[1]

Though transportation management systems have been around for some time, the implementation and ownership costs typically associated with TMSs have been too high for small and midsize companies. Kuebix Free Shipper removes the cost barrier for those companies that only need a base TMS. Companies looking for advanced functionality can take advantage of Kuebix’s modular and premier features with an upgrade to Kuebix Business Pro or Kuebix Enterprise. The TMS adjusts seamlessly to fit the needs of any size business so that logistics operations can be performed at peak efficiency.

Free TMS Features

Regardless of budget or company size, Kuebix Free Shipper allows users to:

  • • View and negotiate LTL, TL, and Parcel rates and transit times
  • • Get spot quotes for volume freight
  • • create, book and manage shipments
  • • Access and print BOLs and shipping labels
  • • Receive real-time tracking updates on shipments, providing more accurate information to pass onto customers

Improving supply chain visibility and efficiency is made easy through the adoption of Kuebix Free Shipper. Companies who experience growth and find that they need more advanced features can upgrade at any time rather than jumping ship and searching for another TMS platform to manage their logistics operations. Kuebix TMS has the unique flexibility to fit the mold of any company at any stage of their growth.

What Customers Say About Kuebix’s Free TMS

 

Marc Orlando, Logistics Manager at hardware and software manufacturer, Bizerba, says that “Kuebix has allowed us to create a marketplace for our business with our carriers and help us better manage the day-to-day logistics operations with real-time information in ways we were not able to do previously.”

Through the implementation of the TMS, Bizerba was able to improve visibility across its supply chain and improve their operations through the insight they obtained as a result of this change. Additionally, having shippers and carriers utilizing the same platform has improved communication between everyone involved in the shipping process.

Gunner Kennels, a dog kennel manufacturing company, used a 3PL to manage their freight prior to partnering with Kuebix. Brandon Beasley, Vice President of Operations at Gunner Kennels, says that they “realized we were wasting a lot of money by using a 3PL to manage our transportation operations. We knew that if we had contracted rates directly with carriers, we could save a lot of money.”

Transparency throughout the supply chain is vital in terms of ensuring that your company is getting the best rates. Gunner Kennels realized that sacrificing visibility and trusting an outside party to handle their operations was no longer worth the cost. They wanted to have more direct involvement in their transportation operations to ensure that they were saving as much money as they could. By implementing Kuebix, Gunner Kennels was able to part ways with their restrictive 3PL and make this vision possible.

Our Goal

Kuebix has set out to eliminate the price barrier that traditionally excluded small to midsize businesses and establish a community of shippers by making transportation management systems more widely accessible throughout the supply chain. With Kuebix Free Shipper, the amount of time and effort it takes to compare rates and set up shipments is drastically reduced. Users have access to all their negotiated and spot rates to compare and choose the rate that best fits their shipping needs.

Kuebix is challenging the way shippers traditionally think about transportation management systems and ensuring that these digital advantages are not reserved only for larger companies. Establishing and maintaining this all-inclusive platform not only allows companies to save time and money, but also collaborate through visibility across their supply chains.

Benefits of Scale

By offering a free TMS that shippers can easily add modular or premier applications to with the choice to upgrade, Kuebix is creating a community like no other in the industry. Kuebix’s Shipping Community has brought together 16,000+ shippers of all sizes and with all different business needs.

Every shipper that uses Kuebix TMS expands the Kuebix Shipping Community and the community is connected to a vast network or carriers, brokers, freight forwarders and carrier marketplaces creating an ecosystem that generates efficiency for all stakeholders. This ecosystem of supply chain professionals is formed by all shippers, brokers, suppliers, and carriers actively using the cloud-based platform, therefore creating more opportunities with scale. Key among these opportunities is the chance to match available freight with available capacity. The larger the community, the bigger the potential benefits through greater collaboration. The community continues to grow as we add new, valuable features like Kuebix Community Load Match for our users.

[1] https://www.logisticsmgmt.com/article/2019_transportation_management_systems_tms_market_update_keeping_pace_with

Dawn of a new shipping era

The Freight Industry Just Changed!

I’m beyond excited to tell you that today, Kuebix has announced Kuebix Shipper, the first free, multimodal transportation management system (TMS), allowing shippers unlimited rating, booking and tracking of LTL, TL and parcel freight.

Kuebix Shipper

This is big news for the industry because the evolution of freight is upon us – and it all begins with an intelligent TMS. We at Kuebix believe all shippers should have the ability to rate, book and track freight directly with their carriers for free, the same way you can rate, book and track flights in minutes on Internet travel sites.

Kuebix Shipper ushers in a new world of freight shipping for all

Kuebix Shipper is a free, cloud-based TMS that provides businesses invaluable freight intelligence to quickly reduce their shipping costs and regain time being wasted chasing carriers every day for rating and tracking information.

To jump-start this evolution, Kuebix is empowering the shipper by democratizing basic transportation management through the free Kuebix Shipper TMS.

Follow us – and the news – on social media at #freetheshipper.

Freight Efficiencies, Savings Await

We estimate that companies spend 4-5% of their budget on freight, and they’re wasting 10-20% of that amount. Cutting the waste provides a great ROI for a free TMS.

Kuebix Shipper, a powerful free TMS, brings control and visibility to all

The free Kuebix Shipper TMS enabes all to go beyond paper processes and outsourcers to realize efficiencies and savings

Now, shippers of all sizes can get the power of a TMS that was only available to larger enterprises in the past. The free TMS enables logistics managers to get up and running in minutes with direct access to their negotiated carrier rates and the ability to take advantage of the vibrant community of carriers offering spot/volume quotes for specific shipping needs.

Gain Freight Control, Visibility

Kuebix Shipper returns the power to the shipper, providing every business a long-awaited alternative to outsourcing business-critical functions to third-party logistics service providers or using resource-intensive manual processes.

Kuebix Shipper the Free TMS for All

Kuebix Shipper makes it easier and free to rate, book and track freight.

Think Smartphone Evolution

Think of the evolution of the TMS as akin to the rise of the smartphone. Just like how widespread adoption of affordable smartphones changed the way we communicate and interact, a TMS that is available to all businesses and all budgets will have the same impact on the shipping community.

As your smartphone has been the tool moving us into this collaborative digital era, the TMS will be that tool for the shipping world.

Opportunities for freight efficiencies resulting in savings can be realized by all

Come aboard Kuebix Shipper now and let the efficiencies and savings begin!

 

 

TMS Options Proliferate, But Not for All

This is the second in a three-part series that tracks the evolution of the TMS from the late 1990s to today. In last week’s piece I discussed the emergence of the TMS. Next week I’ll discuss the future.

When we last left transportation management systems (TMS), the high price and staff requirements of the early systems had created two groups of freight shippers, the haves, which could afford the high expense of on-prem big-box systems, and a far larger group of have-nots.

The needs of shippers struggling to replace manual processes with automation, drove widespread developments of new products, services and third parties. Most of these used different approaches for addressing the huge need for efficiency in supply chains. Meanwhile, the maturity of cloud computing was driving changes across industries and was just beginning to gain traction in logistics.

The lineup of options for shippers looking to improve their logistics operations included on-site system vendors, services from 3rd party logistics providers, and a shallow pool of companies looking to leverage the software-as-as-service model and approach to locating system intelligence.

Word from Above

But what lead to cold sweats for shippers was all the best practice and success stories that the tech trades and even the business media were running. They featured pioneering companies that had implemented a solution to cure their shipping ills and were said to be on the leading edge of technology use for business gain.

That started the deluge of direct questions from C-level executives.

Are we checking out TMSs? Is this something for us? Can we save money? Why haven’t we done this? C-level execs started believing that their companies could quickly turn their freight shipping into a profit center from a cost center.

It didn’t matter that the price for a TMS was too high or that many of the options covered one aspect of shipping but not many others.

TMS Affordability?

You’d think for sure that a growing group of TMS options would benefit all shippers desperately seeking freight intelligence. The reality was that TMSs were still not accessible to most businesses in the U.S. The have-nots could find affordable freight handling options, but that meant paying a third party to handle their freight shipping function.

For most, price as in the TCO, was the single largest impediment to implementing a system that would enable logistics professionals to truly manage their freight transportation. Isn’t it ironic that the sticker price of TMS options and alternative is what was keeping the have-nots from cutting costs and generating new revenue?

Clear Forecast

With the maturity of the cloud, it became clear that locating a TMS software product on a platform in the network  and sold as-a-(monthly)-service would break down the many barriers to implementation that so many businesses of all sizes were up against.

This opportunity sure got the attention of shippers who had all but given up on an on-site TMS and wanted something that was both flexible in architecture and easier to cost justify to their bosses.

An Easier Sell

Many enterprise freight shippers moved from controlled freight chaos to the cloud and found that advances in platform technology and automation from TMS software made for easier installation and a faster return on investment.

But while a growing mass of businesses were putting cloud-based TMSs to the test – and turning a cost center to a profit center, SMBs, which I believe make up over 90% of all U.S. businesses, still couldn’t justify a TMS spend. Some outsourced their operations to 3PLs. Others were stuck with their inefficient status quo.

Believe me, whether you’re a kid or a shipping professional nothing’s worse than watching someone else get, enjoy (and profit from), something great that you can’t have.

In the final installment of this three-part series, I’ll explain how important changes in the evolution of the TMS will define the future of freight shipping. Thanks for staying tuned!

 

 

 

 

TMS for All? – Life in the Slow Lane

This is the first in a three-part series and is set in the late 1990s.

When it came to understanding what an early TMS could do for shippers, it was a classic example of the saying “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

Buried in paper, faxing, emails and phone calls only to have skilled staff manually enter order data into Excel spreadsheets, shipping managers at small and midsize businesses had no idea what cost cutting and revenue generation opportunities they were missing.

These logistics professionals, however, became painfully aware of problems with this approach when mistakes were made, deliveries were delayed, costs were added and actual shipping limped along at a snail’s pace. Even worse, freight costs were climbing.

And nobody was happy. Shippers had no means to apply their logistics and supply chain skills. AR and AP were calling in with problems. Customers experienced a lack of consistency with some deliveries. And those seeking the status of their shipments faced long waits or went without. Updates were available in unreal time.

All this sounds like a scary movie, with shippers lacking visibility into and control of their supply chains, but it was real life before small and midsize business (SMB) had any technology-driven systems to help shoulder the freight shipping load. It’s tough to solve a pressing problem without a solution.

Is Bigger Better?

While SMBs struggled mightily with daily shipping operations, logistics managers at some of the world’s large corporations were beginning to implement something called a TMS. Back then, what passed for a transportation management system was essentially an on-site hardware platform with software.

The TMS was pricey to say the least, took forever to implement and needed staff on hand to handle its care and feeding, which included installing seemingly endless software upgrades and scrambling to react in the event of an emergency at the location at which it resided. (Single point of failure).

Early big-box TMSes were quite expensive.

And having spent megabucks on the TMS and committed to a multi-year contract for the onsite system, came almost unimaginable pressure from C-level execs to start showing a ROI, after the big-box-and-software system finally went live.

Back to the Past

I don’t have any issues with early TMSes whatsoever, especially as I was in the freight shipping business during this era. The options were seriously limited and were limited to the large corporations willing to spend and commit big to one of these on-prem box systems.

Remember, it was the onsite approach or no approach at all. Everything was on site without viable hosted options way back then. Phone systems, mainframes, data centers, storage, servers and all software were at the company site. And all these key IT infrastructure and processing elements require administration, management, monitoring and oversight.

Ask around to see who remembers long-distance calls, wired phone systems or life before real working from home. And you thought VCRs flashing 12:00 are funny.

The early days of TMSes were primitive

The Road Ahead

All the while, a new era of computing was dawning that would give rise to the broader application of advanced technology that would set the stage for the early days of freight intelligence and TMS options that more companies and their overworked logistics departments could begin to consider for their shipping needs.

Tune in next week, as I continue the freight shipping story forward toward more modern-day technology approaches that gave rise to TMS solutions and alternatives for a broader base of businesses.

Everyone wants to get their hands on advanced new tech products and service, but only a subset can afford it. Change that with a free 30-day trial of Kuebix TMS today.

Technologies to Tackle the Driver Shortage

When you consider that the average age of a trucker is 56, you realize it’s high time to up efforts to recruit and retain younger drivers to address the driver shortage and ensure a future for this profession.

So how do we find younger, mechanically-savvy recruits? What would make millennials want to drive a truck for a living? The answer to the driver shortage is to hit young age groups where they live – which is online or on their phones. The bait on the hook would be technology, with the use of mobile and virtual reality front and center.

After all, when was the last time you were out and about where you couldn’t see at least one person on their smartphone?

Going Mobile

Mobile technology makes great sense as a recruiting tool from the shipping industry side as it’s used for so many aspects of transportation management and logistics be it fleet and order tracking, route optimization, or backhaul opportunity matching. All apply to the legions of individual truckers, where mobile can be a lifeline.

Truck owner/operators have a growing field of mobile tech options for making the best use and the most money at the least cost. Just look at Trucker Tools, which offers a single smartphone app to handle all the function previously only affordable by large corporations with sizable fleets of trucks. And it’s free.

The long list of things truckers can do with the Trucker Tools smartphone app is: find the nearest truck stop, get real-time diesel prices, and find the fastest truck route to your destination and more. The app’s Load Track feature enable truckers to receive automated pickup and delivery confirmations. Other features help drivers find medical aid, vehicle sales and service locations, collision repair joints and even Walmarts.

This is what one of their trucker users – Mike Huber – said of the mobile phone app: “It’s a great idea. It’s super easy to use, with a down-to-earth approach.”

Virtual Reality

Now what if you took one of the hottest consumer technologies out there – virtual reality (VR) technology – and match it with the young age groups that were first to embrace it for gaming – but use it for training and education? It adds a whole new dimension and fun to book learning.

I’m certainly not the first to think of this, but it’s clearly being acted on.

Think of the potential for success here. Beyond enhancing online gaming, VR has captured the collective imagination of sports businesses, marketers, the tourism industry and more. Pro QBs use VR systems (a headset, smartphone and app) to get speed their training by getting extra reps without even touching a football field.

Trucker wannabes could be presented with a 3D scenario in which he or she is graded based on decisions. Do-over are quick and fun, when you don’t have to stay after, or re-study to re-take a test. VR has already been used along with gaming for training in the military.

Young age groups have grown up with VR for gaming, likely logging more hours online than some truckers spend on the road! This is why VR could be a great tool in the larger process of attracting and creating truckers using the tech that’s part of their lives.

The Road Ahead

It’s clear as day that technology is the key to addressing the driver shortage.  Mobile and VR play starring roles in intensifying efforts to recruit drivers from young age groups.  These are by no means the only ways to meet the challenge. So, stay tuned; we’ll be hitting this issue again.

Technology is bringing new visibility and efficiencies across the supply chain as well. Try Kuebix Free LTL Freight Rate Calculator or take a minute and learn more about Kuebix TMS

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Irma, Harvey, a TMS and You

With Hurricane Irma ready to deliver the back half of a devastating one-two punch to the south in the days ahead, you’re freight intelligence will once again put your TMS to the test. For those whose operations weren’t effected by Hurricane Harvey, let’s review what we learned or re-learned.

State of Emergency. Whether it’s MASH episodes, war movies or your favorite emergency rescue show, priority one is to stop the bleeding. That means deleting zip codes that either the feds or the state’s emergency management agency have closed to deliveries (and pickups).

Supply Chain Revamp. After you learn what supplies are needed in the area affected by the act-of-God event, you need to do a bit of reengineering with your supply chain to locate the sorely needed freight and plan with your carriers how to get it on its way to help power the recovery effort.

Reworking your freight shipping to accommodate the impact of natural disasters is no walk in the park, but it’s a shorter one when you consider a robust TMS and its one-source for talking to all your carriers and viewing changes in real-time and acting accordingly.

No Manual? That’s opposed to the plight of shippers who still rely on manual processes that include visiting numerous websites for critical information over and over, sending emails, power dialing and faxing that waste time when you’re trying the hardest to be quick and flexible.

Real-time communications. As the recovery evolves, freight shippers can really use truck and freight tracking functionality to flexible manage their assets – that’s a fancy way of saying know where your trucks are and be aware of their every move.

Go Mobile. This is where mobile technology shines. In dark times, you can reach drivers and they can reach you using nothing more than a smartphone and a simply app download. Yeah, there’s an app for that and it can be part of your TMS.

Multi-modal. Cover all delivery options. We saw – and still see – with Hurricane, Harvey in Houston that in worst case scenarios even delivery beyond trucks wasn’t initially an option. You probably saw the ad-hoc navy of folks with boats hitting the water to deliver emergency aid to the hardest hit areas.

With this in mind, it’s best to have shipping options which means the ability to cover all modes of freight delivery – ground, air and ship – in a single system.  Many complex problems can be solved simply by using multi-modal freight shipping.

Post Event Assessment. Once things return to fairly normal, the freight shipper still faces a big challenge: figuring out the price tag for surviving the latest act of God. A well-equipped TMS can help you figure out the costs associated with reacting to a disaster.

Justify spends. While a strong TMS can help you better deal with acts of God and man-made disasters, you’ll find that adding muscle often means going beyond a base system to include integrations, special apps and even managed services. Though this requires new spending for those who aren’t bulked up to tackle tragedies, look at the costs you incurred in dealing with the very latest act of God.

Cost avoidance itself can help you justify additions and improvements to your TMS.

The Road Ahead for TMS

We’ve all heard the saying “proper preparation prevents poor performance.”  That’s all well and good but freight shippers and carriers with years in the business know planning for the unplanned is far easier said than done.

But a robust TMS will be able to lighten the load.

 

Try our LTL Freight Rate Calculator. Interested in learning more about Kuebix TMS today?

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Freight Intelligence: Learning from the Mayweather-McGregor Mess

I wonder what those with freight intelligence were thinking if they were among those who were able to watch the live stream of the Mayweather-McGregor fight.

Fans usually aren’t still arguing about who got hit the hardest several days after a title fight. That’s unless of course the fighters weren’t the ones that took the hardest shots the night of the pay-per-view match between UFC Star Connor McGregor and undefeated boxer Floyd Money Mayweather.

Fans in record numbers showed Showtime the money for the heavily anticipated fight but because of technical difficulties with the Internet streaming version of the PPV TV contest, many didn’t get their money’s worth. One company had claimed it had all aspects of the production handled in advance.

What actually happened? Paying fans missed some rounds of the fight, only to be directed to customer service numbers (on a Saturday night no less) or to streaming sites to watch the event illegally. On Monday, Showtime claimed it would issues refunds. Later that day, the company was sued for poor quality streams. Can it get any worse?

A Teachable Moment for Shipping

Only if you don’t use this mess as a teachable moment, which it most certainly is for all parts of the shipping world.
So, what did we in the freight intelligence business learn – or re-learn – from the Mayweather-McGregor mess?

  • With shipping, you have to pick a partner that can scale to meet your needs, up to pre-identified peaks in demand, whether it’s the days before yearend holidays or hours before a boxing match begins streaming live. This wasn’t an act of God.
  • No surprises. Eliminate the element of surprise. Planning for your big event or extended peak period with your carriers. Everyone needs to know what’s coming to avoid unpleasant surprises. There were many weeks of advanced hype before the Mayweather-McGregor fight – and most sports fans knew of it far earlier.
  • Redundancy. Consider splitting freight across multiple carriers and multiple routes. You do this to have a much better chance of surviving a big problem if one of your options fails and you still have a customer awaiting a big delivery for a big event, promo, etc. Carrier and route diversity give you a better chance.
  • Plan for spikes whether you expect them or not. I bet 60% of fans waited til the hours leading up to the fight to order it. That shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone given the high profile of the long-hyped fight.
  • Customer service. You need partners in the roughest situations, carriers that will be there with you in tough times and do everything in their power to help you in your time of need. You don’t want anyone that doesn’t answer their customer service line or that pushes you off to someone else. The very last thing you need when the going gets tough is for your partners to get invisible.
  • Live and learn with TMS data and analytics. How did things run, or not run, the last time you experienced a similar peak? Can you adapt accordingly? Listen to what the data tells you. Re-read the reports we provide.
  • Use TMS features and flexibility. When the shipping begins, use real-time shipment tracking to help you spot the beginning of a problem or problems. If you spot the beginning of what could be a peak, you can use the flexibility of your TMS and carriers to route around problems.

Get Freight Intelligence

Failure to plan for peaks results in messes like the Mayweather-McGregor situation that were largely avoidable. Trust me here because I boxed when I was younger. Nothing hits harder than a company that’s knocked out by a peak demand fail. Not Mayweather, not McGregor, not even Ali.

Don’t get hit with peak shipping problems. Get freight intelligence instead.

Try our free Freight Rate Calculator!

APIs Rising: Understanding the Newest Integration Technology

I don’t think anyone would disagree with me when I say the shipping ecosystem owes a huge debt of gratitude to EDI. Many decades after companies in numerous industries implemented it to enable electronic communications and change the way they did business, EDI is still alive and well.

But as APIs have ascended, I’ve seen them grow in popularity as the preferred means to integrate shippers and carriers. Why? The EDI approach positions middleware and transaction processing as a sort of middleman. That can take time and create inefficiencies in the supply chain.

In the shipping world, this has given rise to wider use of application programming interfaces (API) which allow tighter integration of shippers with carriers.

APIs allow for rapid onboarding of customers and their negotiated carrier rates into the Kuebix TMS. This can be done in the time it takes to book a flight online.

When it comes to connecting to ship, APIs eliminate the middleman, and create a direct connect that delivers critical information – such as tracking info on shipments – to both parties in the transaction. Better still, APIs are the easiest way to integrate functionality into transportation management systems (TMS).

Enter Integrations

Here’s where the payoff comes. TMS vendors such as Kuebix, have created a menu of integrations that can be added to the system to support added functionalities. Customers can add purchase order, bill of lading, and shipment status and tracking to streamline these processes.

And just like a diner-friendly restaurant, items not on the standard menu can be created or customized to the specific needs of the customer shipping freight.

TMS vendors can provide standard integrations that they have developed as well as integrations created by third parties, all so you can optimize supply chain management to meet the often-top corporate priority of cutting costs in the supply chain.

Once integrations have been added to a customer’s TMS, the time savings and streamlining can really begin. And it’s the beginning of the end for inefficiencies.

Integrations You Can Count On

Let’s take carrier invoice integration as an example. The shipper receives his or her invoices in the TMS for automatic invoice audit. If an invoice does not match the agreed upon rate for the shipment, the TMS will automatically create a rate exception claim. Sound great? It should, given that you can’t squeeze savings out of a process that you don’t directly control.

How about adding a purchase and sales order integration? Logistics managers can use their TMS to simplify the creation and tracking of true landed cost down to the SKU level and streamline shipping freight.

The hits will just keep coming in the form of additional integrations. Complex EDI, SOAP or REST integrations can be simplified with a standard or customer interface that seamlessly ties into an ERP system. That’s a big part of a supply chain management strategy.

What About EDI?

The rise of API integrations doesn’t mean an end to EDI integrations by any means. But those logistics managers looking to streamline and knock time out of common processes that are essential to their supply chain operations might want to check out the API approach and available integrations.

See how a carrier 210 integration works:

 

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