Food Distribution and Restaurant Blog Post

Flexible Food Distribution and Restaurant Business Models

Covid-19 has left restaurants and food distribution companies scrambling to stay afloat. Many are straying away from their traditional business models to keep their companies from going under. The food distribution industry is already expecting to take a $110 billion loss for a year which is a third of their 2019 revenue. The industry lost somewhere between 60% – 90% of their sales in April.

Changing Rules and Regulations

Guidelines for restaurants and food distribution companies looking to operate in the midst of the pandemic vary by state, but they all agree that smaller crowds limit the chance of exposure. Restaurants are advised to limit the use of shared items like condiment bottles, salt shakers, menus and avoid pre-setting tables with silverware.

Regardless of steps being taken to make dining out safer, many people still aren’t comfortable with the idea of going out again. A survey by the Democracy Fund and UCLA Nationscape Project found that only 50% of respondents feel comfortable going out to eat. Restaurants are getting creative in an attempt to change this statistic by setting up patios for outdoor eating, launching new menus, offering cocktails to-go and creating QR codes to allow guests to view their menu online.

Changes to the traditional food distribution and restaurant business models demand a change from their supply chains in return. Many restaurants and food distribution centers had to shut down for a period of time when Covid-19 began to spread. Pausing a company’s supply chain altogether is expensive and leaves products at a standstill. Restarting a supply chain, especially when perishable goods are involved, can be just as costly. Food distribution companies and restaurants were left to find a way to continue to operate under these new circumstances. Here are a few examples of how companies are making it work:

How Traditional Business Models are Responding

Restaurants Become Grocery Providers and Distributors

The Cork and Barrel Wine Bar in Zionsville, Indiana is one of the many businesses that temporarily shut down as a result of Covid-19. Rather than wait until they were allowed to resume business as usual, owner Sarah Hine transformed the bar into a delivery business and mini grocery store.

The restaurant partnered up with Piazza Produce, a wholesaler in Indianapolis that was also looking for a way to keep their operations moving in the midst of Covid-19. Together, the companies produced consumer-sized quantities of products that people needed but were struggling to locate at the grocery store. They began doing 30-40 deliveries a day and while it didn’t replace the business lost, it helped the Cork and Barrel Wine Bar and Piazza Produce keep their doors open.

Both businesses were fearful of not being able to re-open should they have to close their doors. While shifting to a delivery model changed the stock and supplies they needed for operations, it prevented them from having to press pause on their supply chains altogether.

Deli Counters Utilize Grab-and-Go Method

Many deli counters initially responded to the pandemic by shutting down because they were unsure of how to operate. However, deli meats are convenient and easy to snack on – two qualities that are especially important to consumers during the pandemic. To meet rising consumer demand, deli counters are starting to pre-package popular products. While Covid-19 has made it uncomfortable for customers to stand in lines or crowds, they are more than happy to adapt to a grab-and-go method for their favorite deli meats.


While retail food and beverage companies have always needed to remain nimble to respond to changing customer demand, the pandemic has forced many to rethink their supply chains in order to stay open. Having a flexible supply chain that is able to adapt to a changing environment ensures that companies that need to rethink their business models can do so and continue to thrive even after economic hardships like the Coronavirus pandemic.

Automation Blog Post Image

How Automation is Providing Businesses with a Way to Move Forward

The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically altered the traditional business model. Companies looking to resume business are searching for ways to operate at a normal pace while maintaining new standards regarding cleanliness and social distancing. While wide-scale automation has always seemed like an inevitable part of the future, the pandemic is undoubtedly accelerating the push.

According to ABI Research, more than 4 million commercial robots will be installed in over 50,000 warehouses in the world by 2025 as a result of worker shortages attributable to the pandemic. This is a significant increase from the under 4,000 warehouses that reported using commercial robots in 2018.

Locus Robotics, a Massachusetts-based robotics startup, has raised over $105 million in funds since April of last year. Their bin-moving robots are already well-received in the U.S. and they are starting to expand into global markets. In February, Locus Robotics announced that their robots have passed 100 million units picked. The company plans on continuing to support retail, industrial and healthcare businesses to help them emerge stronger on the other side of Covid-19.

While LocusBots work collaboratively with human associates, they still minimize walking and interaction between employees. Their ability to minimize the risk of exposure is becoming increasingly important as the world continues to social distance and businesses comply with new health regulations.

Many businesses may have ruled out robotics as a viable option for their supply chains at first, but the impact the pandemic will have on the future of the supply chain is changing their minds. Even before Covid-19, manufacturing had been looking at robotics as a potential solution to tight labor markets. The adoption rate for robotics and automation increased drastically between 2019 and 2020. Beyond taking the place of humans, robots like LocusBots can also improve operational efficiencies while reducing costs.

The future of the supply chain continues to change each day as the world navigates through Covid-19, but it is clear that robotics and automation are going to play a critical role in business operations. Technology continues to propel traditional business models forward into a new era.

Like automation in a warehouse, streamlining and automating logistics operations is another way companies can position themselves for success in a changed world. Companies looking to leverage technology to simplify operations should consider Kuebix TMS as a way to get started. Kuebix TMS enables customers, suppliers and carriers to collaborate on one platform. Power is given back to the shipper, giving them complete visibility and control of their shipping operations.

Kuebix is offering 60 Free Days of Kuebix Business Pro TMS to help businesses of all sizes expand capacity and manage supply chains remotely. For more information about the offer and how to get started, click here.

 

Is it the Right Time to Invest in a TMS

Is it the Right Time to Invest in a TMS?

It might seem counter-intuitive to spend money during the present climate, but the companies that invest in technology now are going to have a competitive edge tomorrow when the economy recovers.

It’s a simple combination of direct, dollar-for-dollar ROI and customer satisfaction – in other words, more business with fewer expenses. Instead of trying to go back to “normal,” businesses should use this time of uncertainty to solidify their operations and set their supply chains up to compete in a changed economy.

Doing More With Less

It’s an unfortunate truth that most businesses will be trying to do more with less for the rest of 2020 and even into 2021. This includes labor, materials and revenue as the economy reacts to world-wide stay-at-home orders. International supply chains are in turmoil, especially as pre-bought raw materials and products from Asia aren’t refreshed with new deliveries.

Closer to home, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in April that “the unemployment rate increased by 10.3 percentage points to 14.7 percent… The sharp increases in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to contain it.” Apart from being terrible for the individuals and their families, these numbers are bad news for businesses. Mass layoffs have already taken place in many sectors, making it harder for logistics teams to complete tasks with fewer man-hours and fewer external partners like “mom and pop” carriers.

Greater unemployment and economic uncertainty cause consumers to be more conservative with their spending. As such, even businesses that have managed to stay open during Covid-19 are unlikely to see the sales they had expected. That means every last penny needs to be spent wisely.

Managing disrupted operations with fewer team members, partners, and inbound dollars is a difficult task. Streamlining operations is essential to make sure these disruptions don’t overwhelm an already overtaxed supply chain. A transportation management system (TMS) can automate mundane processes previously wasting valuable time like keying order information, invoice audit, and rate comparison.

A TMS can also give teams visibility into inbound and outbound orders so they can stop asking “where’s my truck” and can instead turn their attention to more productive initiatives like rate negotiations and Covid-19 preparedness.

Tightening the Purse Strings

On the topic of more productive initiatives is finding ways to spend less money without sacrificing service to customers. Before a company can start to discover and eliminate waste, they need to have an accurate understanding of their current costs. This includes total freight costs, freight costs down to the SKU level, costs by carrier, carrier service levels, OTD percentages, detention and accessorial fees to name a few.

All of these metrics can be neatly summed up in reports and dashboards provided through a cloud-based TMS. These analytics can be used to find waste and make the necessary changes to save money.

For example, it may be common practice to book the cheapest carrier on a lane. However, it’s possible that that carrier is late 30% of the time. Anecdotal evidence might not be enough to make the case to switch to the slightly more expensive carrier, but hard facts are enough. With the data in hand, it’s easy to make the case to switch to a carrier with superior OTD percentages to improve customer satisfaction and win repeat business.

By adding an ERP integration on top of a TMS, users can even track their true landed costs down to the SKU level so that they can better allocate freight spend.

It’s not only long-term that transportation management systems help users save money. On the contrary, most users find themselves saving money on their freight spend almost immediately with the help of a TMS. This immediate ROI is derived from comparing rates from a variety of carriers on several modes.

Let’s face it, not every logistics team has time to manually compare rates for each load with every carrier they’re acquainted with. Instead, they use their best judgment to rate and book with familiar carriers. With the addition of a TMS, all of their contracted carrier rates are quickly and easily displayed so that teams can find the best rate and mode for every shipment. This translates into rapid ROI for the TMS.

Growing Customer Expectations

Just because there’s been an international pandemic doesn’t mean that customer expectations are any lower. On the contrary, many people are becoming more and more used to rapid delivery and “Amazon-like” customer experiences since being quarantined at home. It’s the shipper’s job to meet these growing customer expectations.

With the help of a TMS, companies can make sure that their products are tendered to the carriers that will deliver the fastest for the smallest price tag. A TMS also gives shippers a heightened level of visibility to order statuses. This means that customers can receive better status updates on their orders and are more likely to be flexible if something goes wrong along the way.

For final mile delivery, shippers can even add an e-commerce integration that allows their customers to choose the rate and delivery type that best suits their needs. This level of customization improves customer satisfaction and personalizes the delivery experience for them.

More Rate Options

The U.S. economy doesn’t look anything like it did at the end of 2019. As such, it doesn’t make sense to continue to operate a business the same way either. One way shippers can set themselves up for success is by “building their bench of carriers.” This means connecting with a larger assortment of carriers, brokers, and freight marketplaces to have the greatest chance to find the capacity they need when they need it.

The easiest way to connect with a large number of available trucks is through a community like Kuebix Community Load Match. What makes Community Load Match unique is the connection of shippers with a rapidly growing carrier community from Trimble’s network of 1.3 million commercial trucks, digital freight matching services and brokers to meet truckload needs on one platform. Shippers can easily request and receive rates from the carrier community, including their contracted carriers. This means that they are always sourcing rates from as many providers as possible!


Interested in learning more about why investing in a TMS makes sense, even during the current economic climate? Hear what Dave Lemont, General Manager & VP, and Luke Lefkowitz, Supply Chain Expert at Kuebix have to say in this webinar: Making the Case for Cloud-Based TMS

Making the Case for TMS

State of Supply Chain Blog Post

Transportation of Goods in a Changed World

The Covid-19 pandemic has altered every aspect of both small and large businesses for the foreseeable future. Supply chains throughout the country are adapting to changes in demand and new rules and regulations. Manufacturers, suppliers and truck drivers are adjusting to changes posed by Covid-19 every day.

 How Truck Drivers are Operating in an Economy That’s Weathered Covid-19

 Roughly 70% of America’s freight travels by truck. Many of the 3.5 million truck drivers in the country are busier than ever as a direct result of the pandemic. However, their operations are not exempt from change. Meals once looked at as a healthy break or chance to unwind are now spent inside trucks instead of rest stops. According to a survey released this month by Change to Win, 7 in 10 truck drivers reported operating in more dangerous working conditions during the pandemic. Their job, like most essential workers, requires them to risk exposure every day they are out on the roads.

 The Department of Transportation issued new guidance for truck drivers as a result of their critical role in keeping the U.S. economy moving throughout the pandemic. The new set of rules is based entirely on feedback from members of the industry. Drivers are now allowed to split their mandatory ten hours of rest in two different ways – either an 8-2 split or a 7-3 split. Prior to the change, drivers were forced to take the entire ten hours at once. Allowing drivers to split rest time is designed to allow them to have more flexible hours without compromising their safety.

 The trucking industry is working tirelessly to keep essential businesses stocked and running, but that doesn’t mean they are immune to the negative effects of Covid-19. The Labor Department recently reported that 88,300 trucking and warehouse positions were lost even though firms are busy delivering critical supplies to hospitals, clinics and grocery stores. When the pandemic hit America earlier this year, there was a surge in demand as the world started shopping in bulk. This surge fell in April and continues to slow down as individuals and companies plan their recovery. Regardless of changes in demand and available staff, truck drivers continue to perform an essential service.

What Trucking Companies Can Do to Succeed In a Changed World

 Kuebix recognizes that it’s never been more important to keep America’s supply chains running. That’s why we are offering 60 Free Days of Kuebix Business Pro TMS. Kuebix Business Pro TMS is a cloud-based platform that allows users to expand their capacity and effectively manage their supply chains remotely. Users can increase operational efficiencies by utilizing features that allow them to connect with all of their carriers in one spot, grant access to multiple users in multiple locations and leverage integrated analytics to make more informed decisions.

 Kuebix TMS provides access to Community Load Match. With Kuebix’s Community Load Match, the process of finding truckload capacity is drastically simplified. Users can connect with Trimble’s network of 1.3 million commercial trucks, digital freight matching services and brokers to meet all of their truckload needs on one platform. Community Load Match allows users to supplement existing capacity with reliable alternatives and ensure they’re choosing the best provider for every truckload shipment.

Through leveraging technology, businesses can ensure that their truck drivers are prepared and informed regardless of the challenges presented by Covid-19. While no one can be sure of what the next couple of months will bring, utilizing data and staying informed will set the transportation industry up for success!

Kuebix TMS Covid-19 Alcoholic Beverage Industry Blog Post

Beer, Wine and Liquor – The Alcoholic Beverage Industry During Covid-19

Social distancing has redefined business operations and everyday life throughout the country. Companies are changing their traditional business models to adapt to rules and regulations put in place to keep customers safe. Those that remain open or are starting to reopen are adapting to significant changes in consumer buying habits. One of these significant consumer buying habits is an unexpected surge in sales within the liquor industry.

In comparison to last year’s sales, beer and cider purchases went up by 20% from March 29 to April 4. Packs of beer containing 24-30 beverages grew by 90% that week compared to the previous year, and ready-to-drink cocktails like spiked lemonades and seltzers increased by 106%. Everyone doing their part and staying home means no more refreshments at restaurants or bars. Aside from restaurants that sell craft or specialty beverages in addition to their food, stocking up at a liquor store has been the only remaining option for many looking for a drink. Liquor stores can expect to profit from this surge for a while – it’s going to take some time for all customers to be comfortable going into restaurants again once the lockdown has ended.

Not all branches of the liquor industry are experiencing a positive surge in business, however. Craft beer companies are hurting. A significant portion of their revenue is from being served on tap at restaurants. Without restaurants catering to sit-down clientele, they have to depend on liquor store sales. The number and variety of craft beers varies from store to store because they’re more expensive for retailers to carry and consumers to purchase. As a result, craft beer sales within liquor stores aren’t consistent. Experts say that majority of the 8,000-plus craft brewers in the U.S. don’t sell their product in grocery stores and can’t afford to produce larger cases. With so many consumers shopping in bulk to spend as much time home as possible, they are even less likely to pick a smaller pack of specialty beers.

Many breweries have the kegs they were supposed to distribute to restaurants and bars to worry about. Bell’s Brewery in Michigan reported that even though they have seen an increase in sales through stores, they are struggling to determine what to do about the 50,000 kegs – about 6.2 million pints – of their summer beer they were supposed to distribute. While packaging and selling the beer in 12-packs makes sense, bottles and cans aren’t easy to come by. Craft breweries still have to compete with larger beer manufacturers for supplies.

Companies experiencing a surge in demand can look to Kuebix to keep their supply chains running smoothly during Covid-19. Kuebix is offering 60-days free of our award-winning Kuebix Business Pro TMS to help companies battle through the pandemic. Its cloud-based TMS technology helps shippers expand capacity while successfully managing their supply chains remotely.

As the world adjusts to social distancing even as economies begin to open back up, it will be interesting to see how craft and specialty breweries entice consumers as liquor store profits continue to rise. Supporting these successful small businesses in this uncertain time is both refreshing to consumers and rewarding to the industry!

Kuebix TMS Medical Equipment and Supplies Blog Post

Battling Medical Device and Equipment Supply Chain Disruptions During Covid-19

Medical devices and equipment are tantamount to tactical gear and weaponry in the war against Covid-19. Without the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) like disposable gloves, masks and gowns, our healthcare workers are entering the battlefield without the assets they need for success.

It’s not only PPE and products like ventilators that are essential during this grueling period of history; the supply chains of standard medical devices and equipment are also being disrupted. Everything from heart disease to seasonal allergies haven’t been put on pause just because there’s a global pandemic. The disruption in the global supply chain is putting strain on all facets of the medical industry and putting people at risk if the medical companies they rely on to keep them healthy falter.

Medical Device and Equipment Shortages

During times of enormous strain on the medical industry, the U.S. government is called upon to provide states access to the emergency stockpile. According to two health officials at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, however, the national stockpile of masks, respirators, gloves, gowns, and face shields was already severely depleted at the end of March. To put this into perspective, a report by the U.S. Oversight Committee in mid-April confirmed that New York had received 4,400 ventilators and another 3,520 went to places like New Jersey, Washington, Michigan, Illinois and Florida. Currently, there are 1 million+ confirmed cases in the United States.

To combat the shortage, individual manufacturers of medical equipment have stepped up their production efforts. Sourcing materials from international supply chains has proved to be highly complex, as different countries have responded to Covid-19 in different ways, some even halting raw material manufacturing completely.

Other companies in various industries have added their production power to the medical device and equipment shortage fight. Companies like Lego, Under Armor, and Xerox are manufacturing face shields, masks, and hand sanitizer respectively to help out the overburdened medical industry.

Connect Remotely by Leveraging a Cloud-based TMS

In a pre-pandemic world, many logistics teams were still relying on email, phone calls and shared Excel sheets to manage their freight. With a majority of people working from home, these more traditional forms of collaboration aren’t enough for medical equipment and device companies trying to navigate a turbulent supply chain.

Cloud-based transportation management systems like Kuebix TMS have changed this, however. Now, with the help of technology, every supply chain stakeholder from the logistics department, AR/AP, sales and customer service can collaborate in a single system and work off of the same transportation information. This means that teams scattered across multiple location can quickly rate, book and track their essential deliveries to ensure the public is supplied with life-saving equipment without ever having to pick up the phone.

By leveraging a cloud-based TMS like Kuebix TMS, teams can work off of the same set of information, maintain historical data for analysis and digitally connect with carriers for rating, booking, tracking and managing freight.

Plan Ahead to Instantly Access Truckload Capacity

With so many supply chains in chaos and trucking companies either overburdened by spikes in demand of struggling to fill empty lanes, finding real-time capacity and pricing for domestic freight may seem like a challenge. Companies that rely on the same small set of carrier partners will find themselves overpaying or missing deliveries as the pandemic’s effect on the supply chain worsen.

To get set up with the best chance of covering every load at the best price, medical companies need to ‘build their bench’ of carriers. With a wider selection of carrier partners to choose from, the likelihood of optimally covering every load increases dramatically. This means that tight margins can be maintained and business can proceed as smoothly as possible.

The best way any company can quickly and easily ‘build their bench’ is by connecting digitally with a vast network of asset-based carriers. Instead of negotiating spot quotes one-by-one, manufacturers and distributors can instead turn to their connected community to request bids all at once and tender proceed with tendering their freight. From there it’s a simple process to turn those direct carrier relationships built off of spot quotes into negotiate contracted carrier rates as needed.

Kuebix Community Load Match

Kuebix Community Load Match is a platform that allows any Kuebix TMS user to quickly connect to a vast ecosystem of dedicated truckload carriers, brokers, freight marketplaces and direct carrier assets. The system enables shippers to request and compare spot rates from their carriers and the Kuebix community with the touch of a button, while retaining control of their freight by choosing the carrier or broker directly.

Users’ job is simplified by tendering all shipments using one system for spot quoting as well as booking with regularly negotiated carrier rates. Instead of switching between carrier websites or hammering the phone, shippers can instead view all of their bids in a single place to choose the best one for their freight.

By connecting digitally with a platform like Kuebix Community Load Match, medical companies can quickly build their bench of carriers and meet the surges in demand arising from this crisis.

How Kuebix is Helping Medical Device and Equipment Companies During Covid-19

The essential role medical device and equipment companies play during the Covid-19 pandemic is unquestionable. For that, everyone at Kuebix would like to say Thank You. Their continued efforts keep households, doctors and hospitals equipped with the products they need to keep everyone healthy.

At Kuebix, we want to help keep America’s supply chains moving. That’s why we’re offering 60 free days of our award-winning Kuebix Business Pro TMS to help companies during Covid-19. As many of us switch to remote operations, cloud-based TMS technology like Kuebix can help shippers collaborate within their supply chains and gain access to the carriers and capacity they need.

Thank A Trucker Blog Post Kuebix

Trucking Companies Continue Service During Covid-19 – #ThankATrucker

Truck drivers perform an essential service to our country with every trip they take, especially during times of crisis like what’s happening now. It’s paramount that we take a moment to #ThankATrucker for everything they do to keep our country and economy on its feet during Covid-19.

Trucking is the Backbone of the U.S. Economy

There are an estimated 3.5 million professional truck drivers populating the roads and delivering 71.4% of the country’s total freight tonnage. They are responsible for the consistent flow of food, water, medical supplies and other necessities in stores worldwide. More than 80% of communities in the United States depend on truck drivers to deliver all of their goods. Their job demands an extensive number of hours on the road, time away from family and trading in home-cooked meals for whatever fast food is available at rest stops. Being a truck driver is a serious commitment and every sacrifice they make ensures life continues normally for the rest of the country.

The rapid spread of COVID-19 has shifted the spotlight onto these hardworking individuals as supply chains throughout the country are struggling to adjust. Losses for U.S. retailers from production and transportation shortages from March 9 to April 20 are estimated to amount to $700 million. Businesses of all sizes that have been deemed non-essential have halted in-store operations entirely while manufacturers of household products like toilet paper and disinfectant wipes are experiencing a next-level increase in demand.

How Trucking Companies are Going Above and Beyond to Handle the Crisis

 Estes Express Lines

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced a partnership with Estes Express Lines to ship 56,000 meals to food banks throughout the state. Estes has also teamed up with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to aid in the distribution of personal protective equipment to hospitals and first responders.

 Paper Transport Inc.

Truckload carrier Paper Transport, Inc. announced a minimum charitable pledge of $100,000 to the support of Covid-19 victims with hopes of either doubling or tripling it over the next month. With news of how the virus has affected communities and schools continuing to spread, the ownership team at Paper Transport decided to pledge to donate half of their profits during the month of April.

J.B. Hunt Transport

Trucking company J.B. Hunt is providing a one-time $500 bonus for its drivers and personnel at field operations and customer facilities as a result of their hard work and dedication. CEO John Roberts said “All of our employees have gone above and beyond the call to action during this crisis. They have kept pace with the evolving supply chain needs of our customers in the face of great uncertainty.”

UPS

UPS is working directly with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to distribute N95 masks and gloves for healthcare workers. FEMA will utilize UPS’s air hub in Louisville, Kentucky to stage shipments from overseas. CEO David Abney stated that “UPS Healthcare has the expertise and experience to move vital, life-saving medicines, medical devices, diagnostic specimens and supplies everywhere they are needed.” UPS is also working with LestGetChecked, Henry Schein and Pharmatech.

Tyson Foods

Earlier this week, Tyson Foods announced that they will be giving the 116,000 truck drivers and frontline workers responsible for keeping their food distribution running smoothly a $500 bonus. Tyson also changed part of their meat production to instead focus on retail packaging to adjust to the heightened demand for frozen goods. “Our team members are leading the charge to continue providing food to the nation. The bonuses are another way we can say ‘thank you’ for their efforts,” said CEO Noel White.

How Kuebix is Helping Shippers Keep Their Supply Chains Moving

Kuebix understands the importance of keeping supply chains moving in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. To help companies battle through Covid-19, Kuebix is offering 60-days free of our award-winning Kuebix Business Pro TMS. Our cloud-based TMS technology can help shippers expand capacity and effectively manage their supply chains remotely.

Covid-19 Transportation Supply Chain Digital Cloud-Based Technology Collaboration

Keeping Supply Chains Moving During Covid-19 Requires Digital Collaboration and Access to Capacity

As the crisis from the Covid-19 pandemic continues to unfold, the complex workings of the United States’ supply chain have been thrust into the general public’s view. There are shortages of toilet paper, food items, and over the counter medications just to name a few. Lockdowns of communities, counties, and states are causing backups and decreased available freight capacity. Workers are moving to remote work setups and need to find new ways to collaborate and to efficiently manage logistics operations from anywhere. One thing’s for certain, however, logistics and supply chain companies remain the backbone of the U.S. economy and way of life.

So, how do supply chains continue to function smoothly during such an unprecedented and unplanned-for crisis? 

Supply Chain Challenges During Covid-19

Unlike with a hurricane or other natural disaster, Covid-19 comes with a number of unforeseen challenges. For example, staple products like flour and beans are flying off of shelves while more specialty items see a complete halt in sales. Forecasters can use historical data to plan for the response needed to a natural disaster. With Covid-19, the supply chain’s ‘symptoms’ are completely unforecast, leaving manufacturers and distributors either with excess inventory or un-meetable demand.

Not only are demand forecasts completely unreliable, but there is added confusion as most companies switch to remote-working models. Instead of coming into the office to manage shipping, teams must connect over the internet to manage freight operations. Without a technological framework in place, many teams may be left struggling to stay afloat.

This shake-up of standard shipping procedures has also resulted in disruptions in lanes and carrier availability. In an effort to provide some relief to companies shipping essential goods, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on March 18th issued an expanded national emergency declaration that provides hours-of-service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers. Commenting on this dramatic change, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao said, “The nation’s truck drivers are on the front lines of this effort and are critical to America’s supply chain.

According to a new report from Gartner, ¹How Digitized Freight Platforms and Other Transportation Technologies Can Help With Current Domestic Transportation Capacity Challenges, “As capacity decreases, shippers are confronted with increasing volumes of tender rejections and increasing rates.” Volatility in capacity and pricing is expected to continue even after the worst of the pandemic passes. Price gouging will also likely become a wider-spread issue as some entities see an opportunity to make extra cash during the crisis.

In order to ‘weather the storm’ and emerge on the other side set up for success, shipping companies should be turning to technology now to connect with additional truck capacity and collaborate with supply chain stakeholders working remotely. 

Leveraging Cloud-Based Technology for Collaboration

For many companies, day-to-day collaboration takes the form of email, phone calls and shared Excel sheets to manage freight. Cloud-based transportation management systems like Kuebix TMS have changed that narrative. Now, with the help of technology, every supply chain stakeholder from the logistics department, AR/AP, sales and customer service can collaborate in a single system and work off of the same transportation information. In addition to internal collaboration, teams can digitally access their carrier connections to quote and tender freight without ever picking up the phone.

As remote work becomes the standard for companies across the country amid the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that organizations move their logistics operations to the cloud to improve collaboration. By leveraging a cloud-based TMS like Kuebix TMS, teams can work off of the same set of information, maintain historical data for analysis and digitally connect with carriers for rating, booking, tracking and managing freight.

Connecting with Digitized Freight Platforms to Find Additional Capacity

Even finding real-time capacity and pricing for domestic freight may seem like a challenge right now, especially for companies relying on the same small set of carrier partners during this crisis. In order to get set up with the best chance of covering every load optimally, shippers need to ‘build their bench’ of carriers. With a wider selection of carrier partners to choose from, the likelihood of optimally covering every load increases dramatically.

The best way for shippers to quickly and easily build their bench is to connect digitally with a vast network of carriers. Instead of negotiating every spot quote in a piecemeal fashion, shippers can instead turn to their connected community to request bids en-masse and tender freight. From here, shippers can build direct relationships with carriers in the network and negotiate new contracted carrier rates as needed.

Kuebix Community Load Match is a platform that allows any Kuebix TMS user to quickly connect to a vast ecosystem of dedicated truckload carriers, brokers, freight marketplaces and direct carrier assets. The platform enables shippers to request and compare spot rates  from their carriers and the Kuebix community with the touch of a button, while retaining control of their freight by choosing the carrier or broker directly. Users’ job is simplified by tendering all shipments using one system for spot quoting as well as booking with regularly negotiated carrier rates. Instead of switching between carrier websites or hammering the phone, shippers can instead view all of their bids in a single place to choose the best one for their freight.

By connecting digitally with a platform like Kuebix Community Load Match, shippers can quickly build their bench of carriers and get prepared for the inevitable surges in demand for capacity arising from this crisis.

How Kuebix is Helping Shippers During Covid-19

At Kuebix, a Trimble company, we know that keeping the supply chain moving matters more now than ever as businesses battle through the Covid-19 pandemic. That’s why we are offering 60-days free of our award-winning Kuebix Business Pro TMS to help companies during Covid-19. As many of us switch to remote operations, cloud-based TMS technology like Kuebix can help shippers collaborate within their supply chains and gain access to the carriers and capacity they need.


¹Gartner, How Digitized Freight Platforms and Other Transportation Technologies Can Help With Current Domestic Transportation Capacity Challenges, 2 April 2020