hurricane supply chain kuebix

Preparing Your Supply Chains for Hurricane Season

If you live or work anywhere along the eastern seaboard of the United States, you know the panicked feeling when you hear on the news that a major hurricane is approaching. Even if you believe that the hurricane won’t hit your town, hurricanes are unpredictable by nature. Grocery stores run low on stock as people rush in to purchase as much water, food and emergency products to prepare for the damage as they can. So what happens to companies with freight to ship and customers to supply? Businesses in hurricane-prone areas and those that ship to those areas are at risk of lost revenue and major damage if they don’t take the proper precautions ahead of a storm.

How are Businesses Affected?

In the logistics industry, it is safe to say that every aspect of the business, especially transportation and shipping, is highly affected by a hurricane. Category 3, 4 and 5 hurricanes are catastrophic and can wipe out houses, buildings, and infrastructure like highways and local roads which are needed for shipping. Ports are especially affected since they are right on the coast where the majority of a hurricane’s power will break. Major flooding, debris and downed wires make it next to impossible for businesses to be able to move shipments in and out of certain areas that were affected.

When Category 4 Hurricane Florence hit the east coast on September 18, 2018, many roads and rail connections were affected which remained shut down even after the impact. This eventually resulted in a halt of shipments and deliveries being made on time, or at all. Grocery store shelves remained unstocked, bottled water was hard to come by and other necessary emergency products were only slowly supplied to those most in need of them.

Businesses in areas that are at risk of hurricanes must prepare in advance for the possibility of a natural disaster. This is the best way to fully recover from the impact and supply their customers during and immediately following the storm.

What Can Businesses Do to Prepare Their Supply Chains for a Hurricane?

With any business in the path of a hurricane, preparedness is key. Companies in the past have lost market share due to their lack of preparation and failure to completely recover after a natural disaster. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, about 40% of companies are not able to return back to normal operations following the impact of a disaster.

However, there are a number of ways that businesses can prepare for impact. A few ideas to protect your supply chain include:

  • • Identifying if you are in an area at-risk of dangerous weather impacts. While this may seem easy and obvious, many businesses surprisingly fail to keep that in mind when deciding on the best location to operate their business. Simply knowing that your business can be in danger of hurricanes is an easy gateway to finding the right tools to prepare and recover.
  • • Gaining complete visibility to your supply chain operations. If you have total visibility over your supply chain operations, your company will be best-positioned to react to a hurricane or other natural disaster. Knowing where your shipments are, being able to quickly rate and book with the best carriers and being able to track orders in real-time will give you an edge when a wrong decision can result in them never arriving. Companies can gain this level of visibility by implementing transportation management technology ahead of time.
  • • Have an insurance plan. Not only can insurance provide protection against loss, it can save a lot of money that would have to be paid to restore damages. Flood insurance may be a great option, or even a requirement, for businesses located in high-risk areas.
  • • Have reliable back-up partners. Having back-up partners can be very helpful because companies are able to move product via drop trailer to locations that are outside of harm’s way when a hurricane is approaching. There is a possibility that availability can be limited, so it’s crucial to have these conversations with your partners far in advance. Truckload spot markets like Kuebix Community Load Match give shippers an easy path to find and book reliable spot volume quickly.
  • • Learning from the past can prevent problems in the future. Data and analytics can help businesses keep track of their supply chain operations (how well or poorly they performed) during a storm. Being able to see what shipped, when, how long it took and for what cost helps businesses strategically plan for the next time a hurricane hits.

 What Happens in the Aftermath of a Storm?

In the case of extreme devastation, helping families and people in need is a top priority. While supply chain managers need to make sure their employees are all safe and well, they also need to work for a speedy recovery of their business. According to the Olin Business School, redundancy and operational flexibility are important processes of dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster.

Since these disasters are frequently unpredictable, it is better to be safe than sorry and have a back-up plan to conquer the difficulties that the disaster can cause. With hurricane season upon us, remember to stay informed of weather events, leverage technology to retain visibility to your supply chain and have back-up plans in place ahead of time. With these tools, your company will be able to weather the storm!

Hours of Service Changes Lessening - Kuebix

U.S. Department of Transportation Planning to Relax Hours of Service Rules

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is reportedly planning to relax what some consider to be restrictive hours of service (HoS) rules. These current HoS regulations were put into effect in July of 2013, roughly 6 years ago, and have been a heated topic of discussion ever since.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an agency of the Transportation Department, the current hours of service regulations for property-carrying drivers include:

  •      • 11-Hour Driving Limit – May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  •      • 14-Hour Limit – May not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.
  •      • Rest Breaks – May drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since end of driver’s last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes. Does not apply to drivers using either of the short-haul exceptions in 395.1(e). [49 CFR 397.5 mandatory “in attendance” time may be included in break if no other duties performed]
  •      • 60/70-Hour Limit – May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.

Though the specifics of the plan to relax the HoS regulations are still unknown, it’s anticipated that the 11-hour driving limit will be the initial change. The requirement for drivers to take a 30-minute break during an 8-hour shift, as well as the requirement for an uninterrupted 10 hour period between shifts, may also be changed.

Proponents of Lessening HoS Regulations

The Associated Press reported that “Interest groups that represent motor carriers and truck drivers have lobbied for revisions they say would make the rigid “hours of service” rules more flexible.” In the article, a truck driver by the name of Lucson Francois was required to pull over and rest for 10 hours a mere 5 minutes from his home in Pennsylvania. Groups like the American Trucking Associations (ATA) cite examples like this for why regulations on the trucking industry should be lessened.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) said members believe current HoS rules force them to be on the road when they are tired, during busy travel times, and in adverse weather or road conditions.

Opposition to Lessening HoS Regulations

On the opposite side of the debate are safety groups that emphasize highway and road safety. In a recent Large Truck Crash Causation Study conducted by the FMCSA, it was discovered that there were 4,657 large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2017, a startling 10% increase over 2016. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 automobile crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013. It’s widely believed that these numbers are underestimated, however, based on the difficulty of determining which accidents were fatigue related.

Groups like the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, an alliance of insurance companies and consumer, public health and safety groups, believe that the industry is putting revenue before the safety of those on the road. Stating that the current 11-hour shift maximum is already “exceedingly liberal in our estimation.”

The ELD Mandate

The deadline to comply with the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate in December 2017 made the HoS restrictions harder to flout. With trucking companies now required to monitor driving time electronically, there is no wiggle room for drivers like Francois to add 5 undocumented minutes to their driving time in order to reach their destination. Some groups see this as a positive, others see it as a negative.

No matter which side of the debate you fall on, a balance between safety and efficiency needs to be made for the industry to prosper. The industry is currently feeling a slight lessening of the driver shortage widely reported on in 2018, which may help regulators reach their decisions. In the meantime, it’s up to shippers and carriers to plan ahead as efficiently as possible so that their drivers don’t get stuck at the side of the road.

Kuebix TMS Half Year Predictions

2019 Transportation & Supply Chain Half Year Review – Where Are We Now?

At the end of 2018, we made some predictions about what 2019 would look like for the transportation and supply chain industries. With the half-year mark around the corner, it’s time to review those predictions and see which have proven to be accurate and which trends will continue to be important during the second half of 2019.

Prediction: Big changes—and a more holistic, organization-wide approach—to global supply chain strategies.

This trend continues to be true for many companies, especially those in the manufacturing industry. Companies are placing even more emphasis on their global supply chains to meaningfully impact their companies’ bottom lines. Ongoing tariff wars and the associated uncertainty/repercussions have meant that top-level executives are balancing their financials more carefully and managing risk from volatile markets. American companies importing raw materials, parts, or finished goods from China will face their newest hurdle on July 6, 2019, when a 25% tariff goes into effect on $34 billion of Chinese goods.

Prediction: More intense focus on data analytics in supply chains.

Data analytics continues to play a key role for supply chain professionals looking to examine, analyze and interpret data related to supplier risk, tariff risk, logistics costs or manufacturing costs. Being able to accurately analyze data and efficiently leverage the findings is an important investment for any growing business. According to Forbes contributor Yasaman Kazemi, “Data, as opposed to capital, is useless without the tools that allow organizations to order, understand, and gain deeper insights from it.” More companies are implementing advanced technology in their supply chains such as transportation management systems (TMS), warehouse management systems (WMS), and enterprise resource planning systems (ERP) to help manage an increase in data.

Prediction: China’s expanding global reach and economic power.

China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) investments in the Middle East and Africa and infrastructure investments in modes including rail lines, roads, ports, bridges and even schools are helping the country continue to outpace other countries’ economic expansion as they build long-term economic ties and trading partners. In the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest forecast it expects that China’s economy will grow by 6.3% in 2019, up 0.1% over its last prediction. Though this number is impressive, it was announced in May that this is the lowest China’s growth has been in 17 years. Contributing to this slow-down are the continuing trade wars and ongoing concerns about intellectual property rights violations. China has remained unsuccessful in the intensifying negotiations to repeal the ban on Huawei, the world’s largest telecom supplier and second largest phone manufacturer. With a lifting of these bans in the United States, China would be able to gain market presence in an important industry they have dominated in other countries around the world.

Prediction: “King Consumer” and ever-faster delivery of e-commerce orders.

This particular trend has been all over headlines throughout the first half of 2019. The most important announcement came in April with Amazon’s announcement that they will be transitioning from a 2-day shipping guarantee for their Prime members to a 1-day shipping guarantee. This is a lofty goal, but one most consumers will willingly benefit from, steadily driving shoppers away from Amazon’s competition. In a bid to keep pace with Amazon’s exceptional service, Wal-Mart has announced that they will begin an unlimited grocery delivery program that will have couriers physically entering customers’ homes to deliver their groceries. Both Wal-Mart and Target have made moves to bolster their same-day and 1-day delivery programs.

Prediction: Intensified technological disruption and innovation.

As we approach the end of the second quarter of 2019, transportation companies are becoming more accustomed to new technology like the federally mandated requirement to have ELDs equipped in trucks. Some carriers and companies with private fleets are even beginning to leverage technologies like virtual reality to ease the cost and time expenditures associated with training drivers to get their CDLs. Other companies are installing RFID tags and other tracking software on pallets or even individual goods to improve their supply chain visibility. USPS and other delivery companies have begun trial runs with autonomous trucks, still, others have begun investing in electric vehicles and even drone technology. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), the Internet of Things (IoT) and the sharing economy continue to make headlines for the supply chain industry and we don’t expect this trend to slow down any time soon.


The first half of 2019 has progressed much as anticipated, though not always in the specific ways we expect. Technology that couldn’t have been dreamed of 20 years ago has continued to play an important role for transportation and supply chain companies. New trials, beta technologies, and promises to consumers for 2020 are well underway. Moreover, the global conversation about trade, especially with China, continues to be front and center. Shippers, suppliers, carriers, and every other supply chain stakeholder are looking for new and more efficient ways to conduct their businesses. Whether that’s by leveraging data analytics, the IoT, or a revolutionary fleet of vehicles, there will surely be many exciting trends to look forward to as the second half of 2019 begins.

One way companies can find efficiencies for their supply chains in the face of these trends is to leverage Kuebix Community Load Match, a truckload spot market within Kuebix TMS that connects shippers with a vast ecosystem of truckload carriers.

kuebix shipping containers homes

How Shipping Containers are Helping the Homeless

When most people think of shipping containers, they think of exactly what’s in the name: shipping. Formally known as an integral part of virtually any product moving across a supply chain, shipping containers keep products safe from external forces like weather and theft. However, recent advancements have been made to use shipping containers to solve an ongoing issue unrelated to their conventional use.

In Cardiff, Wales, shipping containers are being transformed into homes. It may sound questionable, but shipping container homes have proven to be a cost-effective solution to the ever-present struggle of providing proper housing to people in need. The new homes are also easy to relocate whether it’s an individual unit or an entire group. Cardiff Council paid for thirteen containers featuring amenities such as solar panels and sprinkler systems.

shipping container homes cardiff

The project consists of two different variations of shipping container homes to meet the needs of a variety of household sizes. Seven of the thirteen homes are going to be two-bedroom homes made of a 40 foot and a 20 foot container, while the remaining six one-bedroom homes will be comprised of a singular 40 foot container. The two-bedroom homes are geared towards homeless families with children and will all have direct access to a fenced garden so that the children have a proper, safe place to play. One-bedroom homes will feature a roof terrace and a front door.

Perhaps the most notable features of the new designs are their energy efficient operations and ability to transport with ease to meet demand. If there are certain areas that begin to develop a higher volume of people in need of temporary housing solutions, moving the containers will save time and money in comparison to building new housing solutions.

Communities consisting of shipping container homes are already up and running in Merthyr Tydfil and Wrexham. Shipping containers are already used internationally, so it will be interesting to see if this new take on providing temporary housing will extend beyond the United Kingdom if it is met with success.

Kuebix - Driver Shortage Study

New Study Questions Validity of the Truck Driver Shortage

It’s been taken as fact for many years that there is a shortage of truck drivers in the United States. Companies report problems covering their loads and even the American Trucking Associations announced that there will be a shortage of 174,000 drivers by 2026 if the current climate continues. Here are just a few of the logical reasons many believe there is a driver shortage.

For instance, the growth in popularity of e-commerce ordering has increased the frequency of shipments, especially for the final mile. Trends like “the Amazon Effect” have warped customer expectations to the point that most people expect their orders in just a few days, meaning shippers need to work hard to position orders to arrive in time. It’s also understood that Millennials aren’t replacing Baby Boomer truckers at a swift enough rate as the older generation enters retiring age. All of these reasons couple together to paint a picture of a truck driver shortage.

A recent study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is questioning this assumption. The study released in March 2019 questions whether the U.S. labor market for truck drivers is really broken. According to the study, discussion of a supposed driver shortage has been happening in the industry on and off since the late 1980s. They posit that real disequilibrium in a specific job market can only be sustained long-term if there is a systemic issue.

“This disequilibrium suggests either some unusual and persistent causal factor at work, such as a skills mismatch or a regulatory constraint preventing workers from entering employment or changing occupations, or a misapplication of economic terminology in describing the business situation.”

In layman’s terms, there needs to be some external factor making it impossible for enough drivers to be hired. Otherwise, as the study suggests, the market would naturally correct itself with rising wages and benefits. They suggest that since there are no causal factors preventing entry into the truck driving job market, there cannot be a driver shortage.

If you’ve ever taken an Economics course, you’ve probably come across the Law of Supply and Demand. This theory is generally used when discussing markets for purchased goods but is also relevant when discussing jobs. “The correlation between price and how much of a good or service is supplied to the market is known as the supply relationship. Price, therefore, is a reflection of supply and demand.” In this case, price = drivers’ salaries.

According to the study, if there is a real need for a service, prices will rise to bring the market back to equilibrium. There were, however, “indicators suggesting that the market for truck drivers has been tight over the period from 2003 through 2017: wages in the occupation have been strong relative to those in similar occupations…” To put it simply, there has been a shortage of drivers, but the market rebalances itself with adjusted wages to entice new talent to the industry.

Even though it may be difficult for companies who need to ship product to find drivers, in the end, they are finding enough. Somehow products are being delivered and sellers in every industry continue to be able to do business. If this is all true, the argument could be made that the availability of drivers is tight and getting tighter, but not at the point yet where vast changes in salaries take effect to bring the industry back to equilibrium.

Final Mile Kuebix

The High Costs of Final-Mile Delivery

The final mile of delivery is said to be the most expensive portion of the equation. BI Intelligence equates the share of the total cost of shipping for the last mile at 53 percent of delivery costs overall.

It is costly because it has a larger human element than the other segments of transportation with drivers going door-to-door to drop off packages. In an urban environment, the distance between deliveries can be a couple of flights of stairs, but in a rural scenario, drivers may have to drive miles and miles before they get to their next drop-off point.

If the last-mile delivery experience is poor, such as a package arrives damaged or is left out in the rain, then this can have a negative impact on a company’s brand. Sometimes deliveries have to be made several times because the recipient was not at home and the delivery requires a signature; this hikes up the delivery costs even more.

In some instances, the final mile delivery is the first personal contact between the consumer and the product. If the delivery is poor, then the brand is affected. Was the driver late? Is the packaging damaged? Was the delivery person rude? With customer expectations so high, a lot is at stake if a delivery goes awry.

The last-mile is expensive, inefficient and risky (for a firm’s reputation) – yet people want that “Amazon Experience” where they can track their package via a mobile phone app, with alerts if the package will be delayed and notices when a package has arrived. This type of transparency requires visibility and real-time tracking of orders.

Says Business Insider, “The costs and inefficiencies of the last mile problem have only been further compounded by the continuous rise of e-commerce in US retail sales, which has dramatically increased the number of parcels delivered each day, as well as raised customer expectations to include not just fast, but also free, delivery.” In other words, the issues surrounding the last mile are not going away.

So, what can you do?

Companies can ensure that their organization has complete visibility to any delivery delays, exceptions or missed appointments with the use of technology. Whether a company is delivering to a residence or business; utilizing owner operators or asset-based fleets; or is delivering a unique one-time shipment with a rate from the spot market, a transportation management system can help.

Trucking in America *Infographic*

The job of a truck driver in America is crucial. Trucking is the backbone of our economy and just about every industry would collapse without it. In fact, 71% of all freight tonnage moves on trucks in the USA. That means everything from food to medicine to building materials at one point probably rode on a truck.

There are 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the US right now and there are another 5.2 million people who hold positions in the industry that support drivers. These positions include logistics managers, routers, schedulers and various other office or warehouse positions. Together, all of these people work to get products onto trucks and delivered to the end customer.

There’s a major problem, however. There aren’t enough truck drivers and this driver shortage is only expected to worsen. The average age of a truck driver in the states is 55 years old. That means there are many who are swiftly approaching retirement age and leaving the workforce. This wouldn’t be a problem if younger generations were taking up the mantle and backfilling vacant positions left by Baby Boomers as they retire. Millennials and Gen Xers aren’t filling these newly vacant positions, however.

In just 7 short years, the American Trucking Associations estimates that we will be short more than 175,000 drivers. This will put renewed pressure on an industry that is already strapped for drivers. It will be up to carriers to entice new labor out of the workforce by offering training programs and opportunities for advancement. Other technological advancements like truck platooning and autonomous vehicles could help to alleviate some of the pressure.

The trucking industry faces many challenges over the next decade. Without enough trucks to deliver all the goods produced in our economy, other industries would stagnate and everyday life would come to a halt. That makes it almost a certainty that the industry will rise to the challenge of the driver shortage and find new and inventive ways to mitigate the negative impacts. It will be interesting to see how the driver shortage progresses!

Trucker Infographic Kuebix

The State of the Supply Chain Industry: Mid-Year Predictions

It’s June and the half-way point of the year. Kuebix made predictions about the industry at the first of the year. We still believe that this year will be an enormous change in the supply chain industry due to the issues around the ELD mandate, rising diesel prices, the capacity crunch, increased customer expectations, tariffs and more.

To meet these challenges, businesses are using technology to transform their logistics operations, leading to improved customer service, sustained profits and greater efficiencies. Utilization of transportation management systems is at an all-time high, proven by Kuebix with the adoption of our technology by over 11,000 companies.

For the remainder of the year, this is what Kuebix believes will happen in our industry:

  • •     The ELD Mandate is here to stay and shippers need to embrace the rules while turning the constraint into an opportunity to leverage technology to track their delays and put fixes in place to combat them. TMS can also reduce the number of trucks on the road and improve unloading and loading times by consolidating and optimizing loads.
  • •     Tariffs – The 25 percent tariff imposed on imported steel from the EU, Mexico and Canada, and the 10 percent tariff on aluminum continue to be a trend. Many are predicting that the import duties will drive product prices up for the consumer. The day before the tariffs kicked-in, the stock market fell 250 points as people questioned the stability of the economy, foreseeing retaliation from countries affected by the tariffs.
  • •     Diesel prices – Diesel prices have already jumped 7 cents in the most recent weeks. To keep costs contained, businesses need to reduce mileage to help lower fuel usage.
  • •     Cloudbased TMSs continue to grow in popularity as they can be up and running in a manner of minutes or days, depending on the complexity of your supply chain. They are also easier to maintain and have a lower cost of ownership.
  • •     Higher rates – Shippers are concerned with increasing transport rates from carriers. One method to keep rates level is to help make carriers more efficient with technology for shipment consolidation and yard management that maximizes carrier capacity and minimizes time wasted in the yard.
  • •     Capacity Crunch – The continuing capacity crunch is getting worse, with some carriers saying they have 20+ loads to move per truck. By using a collaborative network of carriers, suppliers and fleet owners, shippers can have visibility to the best truck to move their product from original to destination.
  • •     Customer Experience – E-commerce now makes up a total of 17% of all retail sales in the US. Those consumers are demanding customer experiences to rival that of brick-and-mortar stores. To keep customers from purchasing from the competition, shippers must provide tracking statuses, shipping flexibility and improved delivery speed. Emphasis on the final mile is increasingly important for customer retention.
  • •     Next-generation technologies like Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are growing in popularity within the industry by integrating with predictive analytics to fuel better decision making.
  • •     As the driver shortage worsens as more truckers retire and leave the industry, carriers need to take more aggressive actions to recruit new drivers while retaining existing drivers. These actions can include pay increases, using technology to let carriers schedule their own activities, and improving turnaround times for loading/unloading so that truckers can keep their wheels moving as soon as possible.

Supply chains will only become smarter and more valuable as shippers adopt new technologies that help them better compete within our digital supply chain ecosystem. Kuebix TMS enables companies to capitalize on supply chain opportunities through visibility, control and the use of predictive analytics.