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Kuebix Green Environment TMS

Making Your Supply Chain Green Doesn’t Have to Cost You Green

The transportation industry has a notoriously significant impact on the environment. Conventional vehicles and trucks release large quantities of greenhouse gas emissions, hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide, all of which are harmful to the environment and those inhabiting it. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, freight trucks contribute the second highest amount of pollutants into the atmosphere. Fortunately, there are changes that can be made throughout the supply chain to reduce the environmental footprint of the transportation industry as a whole.

One of the easiest changes to make in order to lessen a company’s impact is to implement a transportation management system (TMS). Beyond simplifying the process of supply chain management, a TMS gives companies an opportunity to transition into greener, more eco-friendly habits.

Optimize Your Truck Routes

Through the use of transportation management systems, logistics professionals are able to see all of their options for each load and make the most efficient decision possible. Shippers are able to transport as many loads as possible by optimally combining LTL shipments, all while driving the fewest number of miles. This significantly reduces the amount of fuel needed for everyday operations.

In terms of reducing a company’s environmental footprint, the mode of transportation selected is equally as important as the length of the route. Traditional methods make it difficult to simultaneously compare LTL, FTL, ground freight pricing and parcel rates for each individual order. Transportation management systems make this tedious task simple, allowing shippers to view rates for every possible mode of transportation on a single screen. This ensures that shippers are picking the least expensive and best suited mode possible, often saving space on trucks for other orders and reducing the number of trips necessary for delivery.

Reduce Supply Chain Waste

Traditional methods often leave logistics professionals battling a copious amount of forms and files. With technology, companies are able to replace paper with a single, cloud-based platform to hold all of their information. Transitioning to a TMS significantly reduces paper waste and saves money, simplifying processes so they can be done faster and leave less room for error.

Additionally, the transportation industry often falls victim to truckers having to idle at gates or while waiting for an open dock in a yard. All of these momentary breaks while trucks are still running unnecessarily burns fuel and emits harmful gasses into the environment. Robust transportation management systems support or have incorporated supply chain technology such as yard management systems (YMS), which give shippers better control over what happens once their truck reaches a yard. These systems combine features like gate check and dock scheduling to streamline yard operations. Through speeding up the process of loading and unloading, less fuel is burned idling, helping both the company and the environment.

The Perfect Match

When it comes to taking steps towards reducing the environmental footprint of your supply chain, integrating a TMS into your current business model is an obvious choice. Here at Kuebix TMS we offer a free version of our system, meaning that any size company can take advantage of transportation management technology. With a TMS, companies can speed up traditionally time-consuming manual processes, gain better visibility to their supply chain, optimize routes and loads more efficiently, and reduce inefficiencies in yards. All of these combine to lessen transportation’s harmful negative impact on the environment.

 

Kuebix Young Truckers Shipping Ecommerce Transportation

Training the Next Generation of Truck Drivers to Combat Increasing Customer Demand

As e-commerce becomes more popular amongst the growing population, the trucking industry faces an increase in shipping demands. Matching the pace of online orders has proven to be easier said than done as the number of online orders begins to outweigh the number of trucks and drivers available to deliver. Drivers on the road are struggling to transport the ever-growing mountain of freight to satisfy consumers’demand for fast shipping. As a result, transportation costs have risen and many businesses have increased the prices of their products to compensate. New truck drivers are needed now more than ever to close this gap and regain control over truck and product pricing.

Why Is There a Need for More Truck Drivers?

Taking on the role of a truck driver is a serious commitment as it requires extended periods of time away from home and meals often consisting largely of fast food. Over-the-road drivers typically work four to six weeks straight, which is an incredible sacrifice for those looking to spend time with friends and family or simply relax. Truckers are often paid based on the miles they have driven instead of the hours they have actually worked. This leaves time spent sitting at various docks while freight is loaded and unloaded unrecognized and unpaid.

What Actions are Being Taken to Recruit New Truck Drivers?

Fleets and carriers are testing a few solutions to combat the issue of readying the next generation of truck drivers. Many companies are covering the cost to get licensed, offering a sign-on bonus to new drivers and some even providing an annual salary of about $73,000. Some carriers are also planning on decreasing the number of routes drivers can take to allow them more time at home, hoping this change will encourage more new drivers to the industry. However, this poses a problem for truck drivers who are paid based on miles driven rather than hours worked. Carrier companies are considering changing their payment methods to reflect hours worked rather than miles driven to lessen the impact of the change. Additionally, some trucking companies are using apprenticeships as their main method of recruitment since these programs give young drivers an opportunity for a more immersive training experience.

What Effect Is This Having on the Economy?

With shipment orders increasing in extraordinary fashion, and an inadequate number of drivers available to fulfill these new order streams, shipping costs are on the rise. In order to compensate for this, companies have resorted to raising their prices. In 2018, Amazon, General Mills, Tyson Foods and John Deere all announced they would be following this trend. Inflation has the potential to rise by 1% as both shippers and suppliers try to deal with the rapid increase of e-commerce ordering. 

Motivating the next generation to pursue careers within the trucking industry is extremely important to keep up with ever-growing e-commerce shipping demands. Beyond creating an incentive for young adults to pursue a career in trucking, these positive changes will also motivate those who are already hard at work to keep on driving.

Grocery Food Supply Chain Kuebix TMS

Rising Consumer Expectations are Prompting Change in Food Supply Chains

The food industry is no stranger to steadily rising consumer expectations and standards. It’s becoming increasingly normal for consumers to shop for food in a variety of ways. Whether they stop at the grocery store to grab a frozen pizza on their commute home, order delivery upon arrival, or subscribe to a delivery service, there’s no shortage of ways consumers are shopping for food. Customer loyalty also seems to be a thing of the past, with many shoppers jumping from brand to brand and flavor to flavor as the mood takes them. For food suppliers, this means getting their products into the hands of their customers whenever and wherever they want, making supply chain operations increasingly complex.

The “Food Anywhere” Trend

Supermarket prepared food departments have seen double-digit sales growth in recent years, and food delivery is expected to grow 12% every year for the next five years. This aligns with the food anywhere trend, which challenges traditional ideas about availability and requires suppliers to conform to consumers’ notion that food should be able to be enjoyed anywhere at their convenience. Now, consumers expect to be able to purchase some traditional groceries at their local pharmacy, have pre-portioned meal kits delivered to their doorways, or order online for pickup at the location of their choice. Regardless of location, consumers expect their food to maintain the same quality and taste. Achieving this standard while keeping products in stock can be quite challenging for many food manufacturers.

Transporting food to local vendors for distribution is just as complicated as keeping up with all the final mile options consumers have come to expect. Trucking companies with food-grade truck assets must conform to extensive rules and regulations that ensure food is transported safely from one point to another. Even the smallest misstep can lead to degradation in the quality of the food and render products unsellable. Potential roadblocks to take into consideration include the distance being traveled, the temperature within the truck itself and the risk of cross-contamination depending on what products are being transported together. Drivers need to be aware of FDA, USDA, and DOT regulations in order to ensure products arrive at their destinations in a sellable and safe condition.

Healthier Alternatives

Manufacturers of prepared foods are struggling to meet demands for fewer, healthier ingredients while maintaining the same taste and texture customers expect. This can cause issues in the longevity of prepared foods, leaving products with shorter shelf-lives all while consumers are requiring more variety.  

However, change does come with reward – 73% of consumers are willing to pay more for a “clean label” product. Some food manufacturers have turned to individual quick freezing technology (IQF) to help achieve this standard while still retaining longer shelf-lives. This is a process that is growing in popularity because it flash-freezes products and preserves their nutritional value. The ice crystals created from IQF are small enough that they don’t rupture the cell walls of the products, extending shelf life and reducing food waste because consumers can cook in portions and keep unused leftovers frozen. This may be a compromise for food manufacturers and consumers who demand options, accessibility and health from their food.

Meeting Consumer Expectations With Technology

Food manufacturers have complex supply chains with many unique characteristics: tight margins, fresh products that may spoil, expiration dates on products, complicated inbound requirements and more. Getting the right volume of products at the right time, and at the right location, is no easy task. Visibility into and control of supply chain processes will allow food suppliers to address these challenges while meeting business goals. 

The best way to handle the complexity of transporting such intricately manufactured products is by using technology that provides complete visibility and control of supply chain processes like Kuebix TMS.  Food and beverage companies can use Kuebix TMS to seamlessly rate, book and track their freight. Through the direct integration of purchase orders from ERP systems into the TMS, companies can save time and improve order accuracy, ensuring that their customers’ growing expectations are met.

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!

Prime Air Drones Kuebix

Amazon is Taking Prime to New Heights With Amazon Prime Air

With the extreme ease and convenience free 2-day shipping gives customers, Amazon is already changing the world. Many retail stores, such as Toys ‘R’ Us and Payless Shoe Source, have lost market share to Amazon, eventually leading to store closures. There is a very high demand for customers who want their packages delivered to them as soon as possible.

Now Amazon believes that they have found a new approach to provide even faster shipping – one that would allow customers to receive their packages within as little as 30 minutes! The concept of Amazon Prime Air was introduced to meet this need. Amazon Prime Air is an electric drone program that will drop small packages directly to customers’ doorsteps.

How Does Amazon Prime Air Work?

According to Amazon, safety is their priority. They wanted to ensure that the design of the drone would include stability and efficiency, so they created a hybrid design which would allow the drone to depart vertically and transition to airplane mode once in the air.

Amazon also claims that the drone is stable in windy conditions due to its six degrees of freedom, which Techopedia defines as “the specific number of axes that a rigid body is able to freely move in three-dimensional space.” The drone is able to fly up to 15 miles with an altitude of about 400 feet, using advanced sensors and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to navigate through static and moving objects that can interfere. The drone can only deliver shipments under 5 pounds, but this isn’t a problem for the e-commerce giant which claims that 75-90% of the items it sells meet these criteria. This makes a very fast and convenient delivery option for customers who need their shipments in a pinch!

How Will Prime Air Affect the Transportation Industry?

The transportation industry currently involves plenty of physical labor such as actually driving on the road and loading/unloading shipments. Cars and trucks in transit to ship products require money being paid for the gas, money to the drivers, and wear and tear on the vehicle. That doesn’t even include the risk of damage in cases of accidents! Technology within the Amazon Prime Air drones makes them completely reliable for safe delivery of shipments. Since the drones specifically handle smaller packages, trucks and cars are still needed for bigger shipments. However, this new technology would save a lot of time and money that could be wasted from empty backhauls or trucks traveling partially empty. The supply chain of products would be less costly, more efficient and customers’ growing expectations around the speed of delivery would be met. Drones are also more fuel efficient since they are electrically charged.

So What Happens Next?

It is no question that technology is advancing very rapidly. The market for drones will be worth an estimated $127 billion by the year 2020, meaning that many businesses may be in jeopardy if they don’t compete with Amazon’s fast delivery times. If customers are able to receive their shipments within half an hour by using Amazon Prime Air, it will likely be a major hit with consumers throughout the entire world! Amazon claims that the Prime Air program will launch before the end of 2019, so the transportation industry could go through a drastic change very soon. So next time you purchase an item from Amazon, there could be a drone showing up to your doorstep!

Red White and Brew - Kuebix 4th of July

Red, White, and BREW! – A Toast to America on the 4th of July

The Fourth of July is commonly celebrated with cookouts serving American favorites like grilled hamburgers and hotdogs accompanied by heaping portions of potato and pasta salad. While you’re surrounded by neighbors, close friends and family, you may find yourself raising a glass for a toast to freedom and the American dream. Whether your glass is filled with wine or beer, you have a rather complex supply chain to thank for your refreshment!

Each state (sometimes even each municipality or county) has its own regulations for shipping and selling alcoholic beverages. This complex web of rules stems from Prohibition in 1920, which banned alcohol under the 18th Amendment. When this ban was lifted and alcohol became legal again, the 21st Amendment (enacted in 1933) stated that states have the power to create and enforce their own set of laws regarding the production, distribution, and sale of alcohol.

Now, filling a cooler with an assortment of beverages is an American tradition that is widely practiced across all 50 states on Independence Day. It can be easy to overlook the complexity of how your different beers, wines, and assorted beverages made their way to your back yard.

In the United States, the supply chain for alcoholic beverages can be split into three sperate stages:

  • Production

Producers include wineries, breweries, distilleries, and multinational brand owners, basically any entity that manufacturers an alcoholic beverage.

  • Distribution

Wholesale distributors, or companies that are distributing alcohol to be sold for retail purchase, are required to have independent and clearly established operations in each state that they are selling in. They need to be certain they are following all local laws when distributing.

  • Retail

This refers to businesses such as liquor stores, convenience stores, or grocery stores. Establishments that serve alcohol for on-premises consumption, like restaurants and pubs, are also categorized as retailers. This is usually the only node of the supply chain consumers have visibility to.


Production of summer beers as well as beers and wines wrapped in red, white and blue packaging starts long before the summer season. Producers need to have some 18 million barrels of beer already distributed and ready for purchase in July alone. For the 4th of July, Americans spent an estimated $1 Billion+ on beer and $568 Million+ on wine! That’s a lot of raised glasses!

11 brewers are estimated to make over 90% of all U.S. beer, though some 3,400 local and craft breweries also do a good trade over the holiday. American-made beer remains the most popular in the United States, but beer originating in Mexico roughly equals the number of craft beers sold annually. The most popular beers drunk on the 4th of July in America include some familiar brands like Bud Light, Coors Light, Budweiser, and Miller Lite.

When consumers are enjoying patriotic themed or American-made beverages on the 4th of July, producers are preparing to distribute and supply retailers with autumnal drinks like pumpkin ales. July marks the end of the peak season for beer, meaning the busy season for suppliers is coming to an end. Beer sales dwindle to 17 million barrels in August before finally hitting 13.6 million per month by December.

Beyond the complexities associated with shipping any product themed specifically for a particular time of year, consumer preferences prove to be equally as problematic. Overstocking on a product that ends up not being well received by customers ties up capital and beverages can’t sit on a shelf forever. Companies manufacturing and distributing alcoholic beverages need to get their goods shipped quickly to ensure they have the best chance of selling. Equally as dangerous is being understocked and making a popular or newly successful product unavailable.

So when you’re enjoying the festivities on Independence Day this year, remember what went into getting your drinks to you. Happy 4th of July!

Sustainable Supply Chain Kuebix

6 Ways to “Go Green” With Supply Chain Technology

Sustainability initiatives and efforts to “go green” are trending through every industry and many are focusing on the supply chain. There are innumerable reasons why companies are prioritizing sustainability. These reasons range from everything from worries about climate change, the need to save money and streamline operations, to increasingly eco-friendly customer bases and the need to please investors that are prioritizing sustainability.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported in January that global venture capital investment into startups focused on sustainability jumped 127% to $9.2 billion in 2018, which is the highest seen since 2010. If that increase in investments doesn’t show where the economy is headed, Forbes recently reported on a study which found that:

  •      •     68% of Millennials bought a product with a social or environmental benefit in the past 12 months.
  •      •     87% of consumers will have a more positive image of a company that supports social or environmental issues.
  •      •     88% will be more loyal to a company that supports social or environmental issues.
  •      •     87% would buy a product with a social and environmental benefit if given the opportunity.
  •      •     92% will be more likely to trust a company that supports social or environmental issues.

There is plenty of evidence that sustainability initiatives can improve companies’ bottom lines and strengthen customer loyalty and brand awareness. Finding the opportunities to implement these green initiatives, however, can be seen as a challenge for many organizations unfamiliar with this new terrain. For most companies selling physical products either B2B or B2C, the low-hanging fruit for environmental change lies within their supply chains.

The simplest and most effective way for companies to understand, streamline and make strategic changes to their supply chains is to leverage supply chain technology like transportation management systems (TMS). With the help of technology, companies can make environmentally friendly changes to their supply chains and add to their overall company sustainability initiatives.

Here are 5 ways supply chain technology can help companies can “go green”:

  1. Plan Routes More Effectively

According to the American Trucking Associations, 3 billion gallons of fuel was consumed for business purposes in 2016. That number has likely grown as gross domestic product (GDP) in the United States increased 2.3% from 2016 – 2017 as reported by the World Bank. Reducing fuel consumption should be a priority for businesses not only to benefit the environment but also to reduce transportation costs.

Technology can help logistics professionals choose the best route for every load, something that can be nearly impossible to do by hand. Instead of manually comparing routes and consolidating loads one by one, routers and warehouse employees can leverage optimization technology to automatically create the perfect load based on predetermined parameters. An algorithm in the technology will ensure the fewest number of miles are driven for the maximum number of orders per truck, reducing overall fuel consumption.

  1. Select the Best Mode

Selecting the best mode for every shipment is another way to ensure less fuel (and money) is used on a shipment. Many shippers don’t have time to compare LTL, FTL, ground freight pricing, and parcel for every order, however. With a transportation management system in place, every available mode type can be easily compared on a single screen. That means orders which would normally be shipped as LTL, for example, may be able to be shipped as parcel. By choosing the best mode type for every shipment, companies reduce wasted space on trucks and save money in the process.

  1. Fill Empty Miles

For companies with their own fleet assets, filling empty backhaul and deadhead miles can be a lofty goal. Finding and booking available backhaul freight can be nearly impossible to do manually. It can require one or more individuals to dedicate all of their time to find opportunities, and more often than not those opportunities aren’t repeatable. By connecting to a transportation management system with a large shipping community like Kuebix, fleet owners can be easily matched with available backhaul freight. This means that trucks drive empty less of the time and less fuel goes to waste.

  1. Waste Less Fuel Idling in the Yard

Idling is a large culprit of wasted fuel consumption. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a typical long-haul truck “idles about 1,800 hours per year, using about 1,500 gallons of diesel.” That’s a shocking amount and most certainly cutting into companies bottom-lines, not to mention contributing to overall fuel emissions. While much of this time idling comes from regulated rest periods, some of it comes from long waits at gates and for available docks in yards. Not only are detention fees being racked up, fuel usage is as well.

Companies who want to reduce idling time in their yards can leverage supply chain technology like yard management systems (YMS) to streamline operations. Features like gate check, dock scheduling and hostler optimization can speed up operations in the yard and get drivers in and out quickly.

  1. Embrace the Circular Supply Chain

The circular supply chain is about taking apparent waste materials and returned goods and turning them into products which can be resold. Shippers can embrace this level of “reduce, reuse, recycle” by using a transportation management system to help track their orders and returns. Complete visibility to products down to the SKU level can help OS&D and customer service departments understand exactly where returns or damaged products are and turn apparent trash into revenue streams.

Circular Supply Chain

 

  1. Reduce the Paper Trail

At their core, supply chain technologies are helping move traditionally operating supply chains to the digital age. That means saying goodbye to the physical paper-trail associated with shipping and instead keeping track of all operations online. By leveraging cloud-based supply chain technology, companies save paper while also speeding up their operations.

Should My Company “Go Green?”

If you’re asking yourself if your company should try to improve their environmental footprint with a sustainability initiative, the simple answer is yes. No matter why you decide to “go green” there will likely be positive benefits for your company. You’re likely to save money, please customers and investors and make a positive impact on the environment. A large portion of companies’ carbon footprints stems from the supply chain, making it the obvious place for many companies to begin their green initiatives. With the help of supply chain technology like transportation and yard management systems, the overall environmental impact can be reduced in a smart and simple way.

drone supply chain Kuebix

How Drone Technology is Going to Shape the Future of Supply Chain

What’s the Big Deal?

Drones are classified as “a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) which typically refers to a pilotless aircraft that operates through a combination of technologies, including computer vision, artificial intelligence, object avoidance tech, and others.” Their flexibility to perform virtually any report or inspection and easily collect and share data has allowed them to gain recognition as a much more valuable asset than many realized upon their entrance into the technology world. While they are most commonly recognized through their involvement with the military and recreational use, drones are working their way into a multitude of industries worldwide, including the supply chain.

Where are Drones Now?

Despite an initially negative connotation, drones have evolved and proved their worth through the benefits they provide to both personal and professional life. Drones have the ability to sharply capture significant moments in history such as life-altering political addresses and sports games that keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last second. NASA depends on them to collect footage of potentially dangerous areas in the universe and Amazon has started to use them to speed up the delivery process of small packages in certain regions.

How are They Evolving?

Drones are sold in a variety of shapes and sizes and offer an array of features such as cameras, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), navigation systems, sensors, and more. Models sold commercially are typically smaller in size and lightweight, allowing them to be launched out of hand and controlled via remote. As a result of their relatively simplistic goals, commercial drones are limited in battery life and how far they can travel. Advanced models that are used in the military or for mapping can fly for longer and be controlled from much further away.

What Does This Mean for the Supply Chain?

The continued progress in the development and use of drones has led to their successful implementation into supply chain operations from the warehouse to the road. Drones are collaborating with humans as well as operating in place of an individual. They are performing tasks such as delivering products from place-to-place in the warehouse, distribution center, or yard and transporting goods from densely packed storage areas to the proper station for the next step. Drones are being used to increase speed and efficiency and combat the 40% turnover rate warehouse operations are facing.

Drones are also increasingly being used in final-mile operations. Amazon has stated that they are working on a program where they use small drones capable of carrying up to five pounds’ worth of cargo to deliver products to end customers in as few as 30 minutes. Drone operations outside of contained locations (like warehouses) are more experimental at this time and come with governmental restrictions and worries about safety, so drone programs aren’t widely being employed at this time. With mega-companies such as Amazon working on drone delivery systems, however, it’s expected that drone technology will become common sights all across America in the next few years. This will drastically change the face of supply chain and add to already increasing customer expectations around the speed of delivery.

What Can We Do?

For the stability of the supply chain, utilizing the latest in technology is now more important than ever. Consumers want their products to reach them quickly and without error. Having an organized and efficient system is an essential part of preventing customers from turning to a competitor.  If drones continue to flourish within the supply chain and more companies start to integrate them into their operations, those who ignore the trend will face the consequences. Every company should actively make an effort to remain one step ahead of the competition in all things technology so that they can be prepared for future tech like drones when they finally become mainstream parts of the supply chain.

women in supply chain kuebix

Celebrating International Women’s Day with a Look at Women in Supply Chain

In recent years, women have become increasingly integral in all things supply chain, an industry that has traditionally been male-dominated. A survey published by Gartner in 2018, however, shows “sustained strong representation of women in the senior-most ranks of supply chain organizations relative to other functions.” This study was conducted in partnership with an executive women’s networking group that focuses on advancing women’s supply chain leadership in the U.S. called AWESOME.

The War for Talent

In another study by Gartner, the Emerging Risks Survey, they identified the talent shortage to be one of the preeminent risks for companies worldwide heading into 2019. Right now, more than 50% of the professional workforce in highly developed markets are comprised of women, and this number is rising. Therefore, industries that do not put an emphasis on attracting, retaining, and advancing women could find themselves at even greater risk from the talent shortage. Research studies have additionally found that more diverse teams perform better and are more innovative.

The Driver Shortage

Initiatives to attract and retain women in supply chain management roles have begun to grow in popularity. Right now, 37% of today’s supply chain workforce are women and that number is expected to trend upward. However, the percentage of women drops significantly for truck drivers. According to the
Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 6.2 percent of truck drivers in America are women. With the driver shortage causing issues for just about every company that ships freight, it’s crucial that the industry attract more female drivers to keep up with the demand as Baby Boomers age out of the workforce.

As wages continue to rise on average for truck drivers, there is perhaps only one prominent reason women haven’t flocked to become truck drivers, and that’s the unearned social stigma of driving a truck. Unlike some industries where women may find themselves paid unfairly in comparison with male counterparts, women and men are paid the same as truckers. Many carriers set their drivers’ wages based on mileage or hours driven. This should be a draw for women in the workforce.

Companies with fleets and carriers alike can expand their recruitment efforts to attract more women to overcome this gap. According to the American Trucking Associations, some companies are now paying truckload drivers roughly $53,000 each year and some private fleet drivers make up to $86,000 annually. Many companies are also offering increasingly competitive benefit options including flexible schedules and 401k options.

Women in the Supply Chain

While there is still a ways to go before women are equally represented in the supply chain industry, there are many encouraging signs. Trade show floors are more diverse than ever and women are increasingly enrolling in supply chain educational programs. According to SCM World’s poll of global universities, “women accounted for 37% of students enrolled in university supply chain courses.” Over time, it’s expected that women will have a proportional amount of positions in the supply chain industry.

continuous improvement kuebix

Creating Continuous Improvement Within Transportation

Continuous improvement programs are important for reducing waste within your transportation processes – and overall business environment. With rising freight rates, lack of capacity, and the driver shortage, transportation operations must create strategies to eliminate waste, while lowering costs and boosting efficiencies.

Continuous improvement is defined as “a method for identifying opportunities for streamlining work and reducing waste.” Often businesses and manufacturing companies create continuous improvement initiatives to eliminate waste throughout their organization, including too much inventory, movement, time, and more. Establishing a formalized continuous improvement program helps companies identify cost-saving opportunities and work better and smarter.

What constitutes waste within a transportation operation?

One of the biggest wastes in transportation is empty trucks. This could refer to empty backhauls, insufficiently cubed out trucks, and trailers that lay empty in yards because a process to track them isn’t easily available. In a world where there is a capacity crisis and roughly 10 loads for every available truck, it’s unthinkable that there should be empty capacity. Supply chain professionals can work on continuously improving their trailers with the help of technology.

There are many ways technology can aid in continuously improving the efficiency of trucks. Technology like Kuebix’s FleetMAX program helps pair available backhaul capacity with matching freight to fill empty miles. Rating and booking with a TMS allows shippers to compare different modes side-by-side to optimize their shipments and optimization technology can be used to build the best load and route for every order. Adding in a modular yard management system (YMS) can help to streamline operations in the yard and at the dock, making truck turn-around time faster and wasting less capacity.

Another common waste in the supply chain is the underperformance of carriers. When a carrier shows up late, doesn’t have the right size truck, doesn’t have the right number of people to help load and unload, or, even worse, doesn’t even show up, your transportation operations suffer, along with customer satisfaction. Establishing and measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) and sharing these results with your carriers can help to improve their performance and keep your operations running smoothly. Predictive analytics can be used to generate scorecards on carrier performance to show savings to upper management. Leveraging analytics to continuously improve your supply chain can reduce freight spend by 10-20%.

Many TMS systems include business intelligence and reporting capabilities, which can be used to help management make better decisions. These decisions can lead to continuous improvement of transportation operations. By continually improving these operations, your business can lower costs, better meet customer expectations and sustain profitability.

If you are doing business the same old way you have been doing for years, then you are not continually improving. With a continuous improvement program, your business will strive for excellence – and will deliver significant value to customers and shareholders.

valentines day chocolate supply chain

Chocolate and the Supply Chain

Valentine’s Day and chocolate go hand in hand for much of the western world. Americans alone consume 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate each year! This means that the supply chain needs to work hard to keep up with the demand. The chocolate supply chain isn’t as palatable as the tasty treat, however. It’s riddled with issues that span from fair trade concerns to sustainable harvesting practices. Once it reaches the continent it will be sold on, supply chains battle with temperature control and getting the final products onto store shelves before major holidays like Valentine’s Day.

chocolate infographic

A Brief History

Chocolate has been consumed by humans dating back as far as 1900 BC, and the practice isn’t likely to end any time soon. The Olmecs (modern Mexico) were the first to start using ground cocoa seeds for consumption. In fact, most of the Mesoamerican people used cocoa to make chocolate beverages. The English word for chocolate is derived from the Classical Nahuatl word “chocolātl”.

Fair Trade Initiatives

Thousands of years later, consumers like their chocolate in a myriad of forms. Whether it’s hot, cold, mixed into a dessert, or in bar form, chocolate is almost universally loved. It’s tragic, therefore that some supply chain practices aren’t as ethical as others. There are growing concerns about the treatment of laborers in countries like Côte d’Ivoire, where roughly 43% of the world’s cocoa is harvested.

New fair trade and sustainability initiatives began to gain support in the 2000s as many chocolate producers seek to address concerns about the marginalization of cocoa laborers in developing nations. International producers like Hershey have put out commitments to source 100% Certified and Sustainable Cocoa by 2020. Other companies like Aldi, a German discount supermarket chain, are using more fair trade cocoa in their assortment of products.

Manufacturing Process

Once the cocoa beans have been harvested, they’re transported by ship to the continent they will be produced and sold on. The cocoa beans are sifted for foreign materials, roasted in large rotating ovens, and cracked open. Once the shells are blown away, all that’s left are crushed and broken pieces of cocoa beans which are called “nibs.” These bits can be found in specialty chocolate shops and are ready for consumption, though quite bitter.

The cocoa nibs are then ground into a thick paste known as chocolate liquor, though they don’t contain any alcohol. Cocoa butter is either removed at this point to produce cocoa powder or other ingredients like milk and sugar are added to improve the flavor of the end product. The chocolate is rolled through a series of mixers at this point to achieve the smooth, silky texture associated with chocolate, otherwise you’d be left with a grainy texture in your mouth. From here, the chocolate is tempered with heat and put into molds before being packed and prepared for shipment!

Final Mile

Transporting the final product to the end consumer is a challenge for supply chain professionals. In order for chocolates to retain their shape, they need to be in temperature controlled areas at all times. This means reefer units and quick load and unload times at every dock. Leaving chocolates idling in the yard can ruin the entire shipment.

Since the supply chain is so long and usually involves international harvesting, the time between initial order to final sale can span months. Valentine’s Day chocolates may have been originally purchased by a retailer’s procurement department about the time Halloween candy hit store shelves. The nature of specialized product makes the time constraints even more difficult. If chocolates are even a few days late, they could miss their designated holiday and need to be sold at a reduced price.

No matter where you get your chocolate from, it undoubtedly has a long history of where it came from and how it finally arrived in your hands. It’s important to understand how the supply chain plays a role in getting everyday objects many take for granted to their end destination.

product recalls kuebix

The 10 Biggest Product Recalls of All Time

Product recalls are a common occurrence in many industries. This is especially true for food and beverage, automotive manufacturing and pharmaceuticals where the products could directly endanger their purchasers if something is defective.

Recently, there was a nationwide recall on romaine lettuce that had social media in a frenzy and kept salad off of dinner plates all across the country. Adam Bros. Farming, Inc. in Santa Barbara County recalled several types of lettuce harvested November 27-30, 2018 due to being potentially contaminated with E. coli, a dangerous bacterial infection. Even the CDC issued alerts warning consumers now to buy romaine lettuce for several weeks.

Though this recall was dramatic and large in scale, it paled in comparison to some of the other product recalls over the last few decades. Here’s a look at the biggest product recalls of all time, starting with the 1982 Tylenol recall which resulted in 7 deaths.

The 10 biggest product recalls

Rank Recall Cost (as of March 2018)
10 Tylenol $100M
9 Peanut Corp. of America $1B
8 Toyota Floor Mats $3.2B
7 Pfizer’s Bextra $3.3B
6 General Motors Ignition Switches $4.1B
5 Samsung Galaxy Note 7 $5.3B
4 Firestone Tires and Ford $5.6B
3 Merck’s Vioxx $8.9B
2 Volkswagen Diesel Engines $18.3B
1 Takata Air Bags $24B (and counting)

Source: Kiplinger

Product recalls are generally a nightmare to manage and supply chain departments take most of the brunt. In order to ensure the public’s safety, mitigate the cost of the recall and get operations flowing normally again, supply chain professionals need to react quickly. To guarantee the best chance for a “successful” recall, logistics professionals need to be able to track and trace their orders down to the SKU level.

Being able to see where the affected product started, its journey through the supply chain, and where it eventually ended up is crucial. Companies with this level of visibility can identify the customers who received the recalled product and alert them without having to send a blanket message to the entire industry. This can save time and reduce the waste of recalling product that isn’t contaminated or defected.

Any time orders are consolidated or the product is touched is a risk to lose visibility. Transportation management systems (TMS) can be leveraged to retain visibility to orders down to the SKU level in real time. This means that companies with an ongoing recall can pinpoint the areas needing immediate attention and act quickly to minimize the negative impact. Establishing a method to track and trace orders is the best preventative method supply chains can take to prepare for potential recalls.

Gaining Supply Chain Visibility Doesn’t Have to be a Daunting Task

Supply chain visibility (SCV) is at the forefront of supply chain leaders’ minds in 2018. Today’s businesses need to know where their product is, when it is going to be delivered, and every detail regarding the contents of their freight. It’s also essential to provide this level of visibility to all the stakeholders in the supply chain. Silos between procurement, warehouse ops, finance and the customer cause breakdowns in the system, resulting in wasted time and lost revenue. Imagine connecting all the logistics professionals who are working to ship your freight from point A to point B on one seamless interface. Giving stakeholders access to the same actionable information in real-time sets them up for better communication and the ability to remove roadblocks.

For many companies working diligently to compete in the new landscape, the prospect of enhancing visibility to their supply chains is daunting. The expected time commitment and resources required to integrate legacy systems with a transportation management system (TMS) is often seen as too costly and inefficient; outweighing the benefits of such a system. These barriers to service are hindering many companies’ ability to gather data on their supply chains and compete at the high-level Amazon has made the industry standard.

Kuebix is revolutionizing logistics management with its intelligent TMS. By seamlessly connecting legacy ERP systems with Kuebix and bolstering the direct customer-carrier relationship, Kuebix enables shippers to see every node of their supply chains. Stakeholders can use one solution to view and manage their freight, saving time and breaking down silos. And depending on the scope of the integration needed, Kuebix TMS can be ready to use in a few weeks to a few months. This modular, scalable solution gives companies previously unable to cope with the commitment of old-fashioned TMS systems the ability to make data collected across the supply chain available to all users and gives them greater control and visibility into what is happening across their enterprises.

Supply chain visibility will be a weighty topic in 2018, as the industry acclimatizes itself to new levels of supply chain control. The question is no longer whether visibility is essential for shipping companies, but how long customers are willing to patronize suppliers without it. The competition will become fiercer and the bar continue to be pushed higher. Here are Kuebix we are excited to see how the demand for increased visibility will continue to evolve the supply chain.

Did Black Friday/Cyber Monday Tax Your Logistics Operation?

This year’s Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday retail sales broke records. According to Shopify, orders exceeded 10,000 a minute on Black Friday. Shoppers purchased more than 600,000 apparel items, 360,000 accessories and 210,000 houseware products from Shopify merchants in a single day. Over $1B US in sales was processed by Shopify e-commerce stores over the past weekend. During the past 4-days, Shopify merchants shipped orders that travelled globally 12.6 billion miles to reach customers, “more than 10 times the distance from the Earth to Saturn.”*

Adobe Analytics, which tracks the 100 biggest online retail shops, says that US retailers brought in a record $7.9 billion in online sales on Black Friday and Thanksgiving and an additional $6.6 billion on Cyber Monday. It is estimated at the peak of the shopping frenzy, shoppers were spending close to $1M per minute. That is a lot of orders!

Now that orders have been placed, they must be delivered. As a shipper, can your logistics operation keep up with the velocity of orders speeding through your e-commerce engine? Or will you have to pay expedited freight charges to make sure customers get their orders on-time? Can you quickly find capacity with your contracted carriers to stay ahead of demand? Can you easily contract with carriers for any mode to book a load? Can you effortlessly compare your contracted rates to the spot market to find a better rate? And once the holiday rush is all over, can you look historically at shipment data to find areas for improvement?

With a Kuebix transportation management system, shippers can do all of the above – and more.

Kuebix Shipper is a free TMS that allows shippers of any size to rate, book and track shipments via LTL, TL and Parcel – all in about the time it takes to purchase an airline flight online. Join our online global community of shippers to help match demand with capacity during this busy holiday season.

Kuebix Business Pro is a full-service TMS for multiple users with advanced analytics and carrier scorecards, freight bill audit and pay, claims management and integrations with other solutions. Using Kuebix Business Pro during the busy holiday season allows you to uncover rate exceptions and discrepancies for added savings; integrate your order management system for streamlined transport planning; and leverage analytics to reduce freight spend.

Kuebix Enterprise is a configurable TMS that offers advanced applications to meet your logistics operations’ needs. Managed services provide shippers partnerships with Kuebix freight experts to uncover even greater efficiencies and savings, with full-tracking and visibility of your freight from dock to customer door.

 

 

 

By choosing the right TMS, retailers can keep up with the exponential growth of their e-commerce operations during this holiday season and beyond.

 

* https://www.shopify.com/blog/black-friday-cyber-monday-2017-recap

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