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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.

 

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.

A Clear Industry View

Dan Clark_3274_reduced

Dan Clark, Founder & President, Kuebix

The logistics industry revolution has begun. Technology is empowering supply chain visibility, control and collaboration that was unimaginable just a few years ago. My experience dates back more than two decades when, while working as a supervisor at a major LTL carrier, I spent my days walking the dock and learning everything I could about freight. I quickly worked my way up in the industry and at the age of 28 I was regional director of one of the largest freight divisions in the northeast, and from there became a divisional vice president overseeing 23 terminals.

While at USF group, I helped standardize business process across five different LTL companies and worked with the IT team to develop software applications to automate these processes. Back in 2007, I saw the emergence of cloud technology, knew the impact it would have on logistics, and founded one of the first true cloud-based transportation management systems, Kuebix.

Today, companies are looking more than ever at opportunities in the supply chain to increase efficiencies and bottom line dollars. Over the course of my career, I have met with thousands of companies and almost all of them have shared a common problem – pain points in their shipping process. Many companies outsourced shipping to third party logistics companies (3PLs), which have come to play a huge role in the industry. However, emerging players fueled by technology are challenging their dominance. This kind of disintermediation is not a new phenomenon; we’ve seen the impact on the travel and movie rental industries to name a few. Remember going to Blockbuster on a Saturday night?

Don’t worry, trucking isn’t going anywhere. Until someone invents a device that transports packages through space and time, almost everything will continue to be moved by trucks. However, what is changing is the inefficiency of an old school industry.

I believe that complete supply chain visibility is paramount for business success in this evolving marketplace. In Supply Chain 20/20, I offer my industry knowledge, opinions, insights and predictions as we witness the evolution of logistics. I hope that you will join the conversation by sharing and commenting on my posts. The time is now for the logistics industry to change. Get ready to embrace the change or be left behind!