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Veterans Day 2019 - Supply Chain

The Supply Chain Wouldn’t be the Same Without Veterans

Veterans Day is an opportunity for everyone in the United States to take a moment to stand together in respect for all those who have served our country. Each year, Veterans Day (formerly called Armistice Day) falls on November 11th, the day that World War I ended. It’s a chance for all of us to reflect on the courage and sacrifices our veterans have made, and a time to honor the contributions veterans make every day in the private sector even after they leave the military.

Top Industries Veterans Join After the Military

Some of the top industries that veterans join after their service include the information technology sector, manufacturing, and the transportation & warehousing industry according to Military.com’s list of the top ten career paths for veterans. In particular, veterans play a crucial role in keeping the supply chain running smoothly.

According to TruckerNews, “There are almost 22 million veterans of the U.S. armed services in this country, according to the Census Bureau. About 9 million of them are part of this country’s workforce and about 11 percent of them work in the trucking and affiliated industries.” This means that nearly 1 million supply chain professionals in the U.S.A. are veterans!

Why Veterans Make Ideal Supply Chain Professionals

One of the reasons that so many veterans join the supply chain industry after leaving the armed forces is their proven experience. Being a logistics professional takes a level of dedication and hard work that can be difficult to be gained places other than the military. Additionally, veterans often have hands-on experience transporting, tracking and delivering goods; experience which can translate seamlessly into virtually any logistics position.

Many carriers, 3PLs, suppliers and warehouses make a point of hiring veterans because of these characteristics and because veterans are known to learn quickly, work effectively under pressure and think innovatively when solving problems. There are many programs that actively recruit military veterans to join their corps and many others which can help get veterans the training they need when transitioning from the military to the private sector.

It’s no wonder, therefore, that you are likely to run into veterans in all types of supply chain career paths. Whether they become the truckers that keep our economies moving and our communities functioning, they’re handling logistics and tracking in a team setting in an office, or working in warehousing and demand planning, veterans are in an invaluable part of the supply chain industry.

Thank You for Your Service

Veterans Day is a day to remember the sacrifice and bravery of our country’s veterans and a time to acknowledge the important roles veterans play even after they leave the military. To all those who have served our country, and all who continue to serve, Happy Veterans Day!

3 Times Social Media Upended the Food & Beverage Supply Chain

3 Times Social Media Upended the Food & Beverage Supply Chain

Social media has changed every industry and the supply chain hasn’t escaped unscathed. In fact, social media has been behind some of the biggest, and most well-publicized, disruptions in the supply chain over recent years. It’s a question of supply and demand. In the past, forecasters were able to rely on historical data to approximate how much of a certain product would be needed. Now, viral videos, tweets, and even memes can throw off those calculations severely by influencing customer expectations.

This phenomenon is particularly apparent for food and beverage supply chains that deal with hundreds of thousands of sales each week of products with short shelf lives. Huge upticks in sales on a particular product can disrupt production and test the agility of procurement and logistics teams to keep up. Below are three examples of times social media upended the food & beverage supply chain.

Starbucks Gets An Unexpected Endorsement

Early in 2019, Starbucks’ Cloud Macchiato got an endorsement on Twitter by Ariana Grande, a wildly popular singer, songwriter and actress. Grande tweeted about how much she loved the new iced drink and her fans, self-proclaimed Arianators, rushed to their local Starbucks locations to purchase their own.

Senior Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer at Starbucks, Kelly Bengston, recalled how the company hadn’t counted on the huge popularity of the drink brought about by Grande’s social media followers and fans. Speaking in regards to the increase in demand, Benston said, “It creates an amazing opportunity to test how agile your teams are… How do you get to business? How can you move it from store to store?”

The challenge for Starbucks lay in judging how much product was needed to satisfy fans while the Tweet was trending on social media while not overbuying to the point where there was wasted product. It’s a delicate balancing act that forecasting cannot fully take into account.

Rick & Morty Joke Presents McDonald’s With an Opportunity

Disney’s Mulan was released more than 20 years ago. To promote the release of the movie, which takes place in Han dynasty China, McDonald’s added Szechuan Sauce as a condiment option for their Chicken McNuggets. The sauce was a limited release and had been largely forgotten until 2017 when social media would resurrect it and disrupt McDonald’s supply chain.

After an episode of Adult Swim’s popular show Rick and Morty referenced the long-forgotten dipping sauce, the joke was turned into a meme that went viral across the internet. To capitalize on the social media presence, McDonald’s decided to bring the sauce back for a one-day promotion in limited quantities at certain locations. Fans purportedly drove across state lines and even from Canada to get their own Szechuan sauce experience.

Unfortunately, the popularity of the promotion vastly outweighed the amount of Szechuan sauce packets distributed to McDonald’s locations and thousands of fans missed out on the opportunity to participate in the “pop-culture phenomenon.” Furious fans took once again to social media to expound upon their disappointment and urge McDonald’s to bring back the sauce in a larger release.

Rising to the challenge, McDonald’s announced that it would ship some 20 million Szechuan sauce packets to stores in late February 2018. This curbed the social media debacle and ended with McDonald’s being able to satisfy their customers and earn back loyalty. Even though the Szechuan sauce joke in Rick and Morty was just a throw-away joke, it had real-world supply chain implications when it hit social media.

Twitter Feud Sparks a Run on Chicken Sandwiches

More recently, a Twitter feud between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A sparked a social media controversy about which retailer sold the better chicken sandwich. The controversy began in August 2019 when Popeyes introduced a new chicken sandwich item onto its menu. The sandwich was an instant success, even being ranked by Business Insider as the No. 1 fried-chicken sandwich. This prompted Chick-fil-A to tweet “Bun + Chicken + Pickles = all the <3 for the original.” Popeyes quote-tweeted it directly, adding “…y’all good?” and igniting a flurry of tweets by chicken sandwich fans nationwide.

Due to the huge social media attention it was receiving, Popeyes sold out of its new menu item in just two weeks after it was introduced. Supplying enough buns for all the chicken sandwiches the company was selling was a main issue. In a creative supply chain move, Popeyes launched a campaign called “Bring Your Own Bun” so that more sandwiches could be sold. The program encouraged guests to order the three-piece chicken tenders off the menu then construct the sandwich themselves.

Popeyes has announced that the sandwich would be returning to its 150 Popeyes locations in early November this year. In order to keep up with the production of the hugely popularized sandwich, Popeyes is adding an additional 400 employees. Up to two people per store will be solely designated to making the sought-after menu item going forward.

Can Supply Chains Stay Ahead of Social Media Trends?

Social media’s influence across the supply chain is a new frontier for most companies. It can be a challenge to react to unexpected endorsements (or negative comments) in a productive way. These stories about Starbucks, McDonalds and Popeyes can act as examples of how to handle demand shifts for other food and beverage supply chain companies. By seizing the opportunity to promote their brands, these companies were able to restructure their supply chains by increasing production, altering logistics, communicating with customers, and even adding staff. The key is to stay informed on social media trends and not be afraid to be flexible in the face of social media’s influence on customers.

Kuebix Transportation Management

Why is Transportation Management Important?

Before transportation management systems (TMSs) came into the picture, nearly all logistics processes were done on paper. Shippers spent countless hours calling and emailing internal and external partners just to ship their freight. Transportation management technology changed all of that.

The first TMSs were housed on-premise and did speed up shipping processes. However, since these pieces of technology resided solely within the “four-walls” of the company, they presented many challenges. These included difficulty updating to the latest version and integrating with other platforms. These issues inspired the creation of cloud-based transportation management systems. Cloud-based transportation management systems allow users to connect with internal and external partners and applications much more easily and offer scalability impossible with on-premise software. This modern version of a traditional TMS also offers a quick start-up, low usage costs and greater flexibility.

Many members of the industry often wonder why transportation management is important and why it continues to evolve. The truth is technology is changing every industry and transportation and supply chain are no exception. Many businesses feel that their current operations are working just fine. That doesn’t mean they aren’t missing opportunities for time and money savings, collaboration with other industry members and an increase in customer service quality. Ignoring the significance of transportation management and all it has to offer means missing out on opportunities and the rapid return-on-investment competitors who have adopted a cloud-based TMS are already experiencing. So, what are the reasons transportation management is important?

Benefits of a Transportation Management System (TMS)

Save Time and Do More Without Adding to Labor Costs

The implementation of a TMS keeps companies from wasting a significant amount of time on mundane and repetitive paperwork. Technology speeds up the performance of necessary tasks and allows companies to delegate time to other aspects of the business, allowing them to do more without driving up costs.

Reduce Human Error and Streamline Operations

Time spent comparing carrier rates and booking shipments is significantly reduced through the use of a TMS. Options are displayed on a single screen to make comparison and final decision making faster and easier. Users that integrate their ERP with their TMS eliminate the concern of human error occurring when re-keying orders.

Improve Visibility and Customer Satisfaction with Better Information to Communicate

Transportation management systems provide users with real-time tracking and order information. Companies are equipped with detailed and accurate information to pass onto customers, providing visibility across the supply chain and improving their customer service.

Aggregate Your Shipping Data in One Place to Easily Analyze for Strategic Decision-Making

Shipping data funneled into actionable reports and dashboards allow users to understand every detail of their freight spend. Companies can make strategic decisions based on data provided to further improve their operational efficiencies. They can also be used to evaluate carrier KPIs and total freight spend by item.

Improve Your Company’s Bottom Line

Utilizing a TMS drives down expenses through improving the timeliness and accuracy of operations across the board. Logistics teams can save significantly on total freight spend by always comparing rates to select the best one for every shipment. Companies who implement a cloud-based TMS have increased visibility throughout their supply chain, opportunities for communication and collaboration with carriers and customers, and significant time and money savings.

How Do I Know What Kind of TMS Software is Right for Me?

To determine which kind of transportation management system (TMS) suits your company best it’s important to think about how many shipments you’re making each month and how many locations you have. By answering a few simple questions, Kuebix can provide your company with a personalized recommendation to help answer this question.

Kuebix TMS Holiday Hiring Trend

Retailers and Carriers are Increasing Labor Ahead of the Holiday Shopping Season

Fall is here and retailers are already preparing to get in the holiday spirit! Many businesses announced their seasonal hiring plans before summer ended. A recent Indeed holiday hiring survey indicates that holiday job searches per million job seekers rose by 11% in comparison to last year. The unemployment rate is holding steady at an unusually low 3.7%, so it should come as no surprise that retailers such as Kohl’s, Famous Footwear and Bath & Body Works are scrambling to fill open positions pre-holiday season.

Deloitte’s annual holiday retail projections anticipates that e-commerce sales revenue will fall between $144 billion and $149, an increase from last year’s $126.4 billion spent online. Total retail sales are expected to land somewhere between 4.5% and 5.0% for the period (up from 2018’s 3.1%). The combination of open full-time positions and an increase in money spent makes it critical that seasonal employees are hired before the first holiday hits.

Retailers aren’t the only ones gearing up for holiday season. Both FedEx and UPS have made announcements regarding seasonal hires. FedEx plans on adding 55,000 workers to its already expansive staff of 450,000. Majority of workers added will contribute to the FedEx Ground network.  UPS is set to hire 100,000 seasonal workers to combat the holiday shipping rush. They’re expecting daily package deliveries to nearly double compared to their average 20 million per day. Long-term positions with UPS aren’t out of the question – 35% of people hired for seasonal jobs over the last 3 years have been made permanent employees.

Companies everywhere are struggling to identify the best method to successfully navigate the incoming holiday season. An easy solution to reduce operational inefficiencies is implementing a cloud-based transportation management system (TMS). Through utilizing a cloud-based TMS, companies can lower usage costs, have greater flexibility and experience a rapid return-on-investment (ROI). A cloud-based TMS gives all businesses complete supply chain visibility, saving them time and helping them provide better customer service.

A cloud-based TMS connects users with other shippers, carriers, brokers, freight marketplaces and 3PLs in the network. Users can streamline manual processes and manage all of their shipping functions within a single system. This simplified process creates opportunity for users to earn more while saving time.

No matter how you approach it, pre-holiday season is here and shoppers are ready!

Bahamas - Hurricane Dorian Supply Chain Kuebix

Hurricane Dorian Threatens Supply Chains Needed for Recovery

When Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane this past Sunday, it left devastation in its wake. The storm brought with it high winds and extreme flood waters that would rip off roofs and ruin houses. Adding to the destructive nature of the storm was its slow movement up the coast. Instead of traveling quickly over several areas, Hurricane Dorian stalled over the Bahamas, traveling at a mere 1 mph at times. This left buildings and infrastructure along its path to be relentlessly pummeled for up to 12 hours at a time.

Now, Hurricane Dorian has been downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane. While this still poses a threat to the states of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, weather forecasters hope that the storm will blow itself out over the Atlantic without additional destruction in the United States. However, many islands and coastal communities have been evacuated and transportation and supply chains have ground to a halt as Americans prepare for a potential disaster to rival that seen in the Bahamas.

In addition to individuals preparing for the storm, many businesses are also feeling the direct effect of Dorian. Manufacturers and suppliers located in the southeast have been preparing for the impact for more than a week. This means rushed production, rushed delivery and around the clock monitoring of the storm’s trajectory. Many businesses are in a state of unknown paralysis as they’re unable to open business back up until the threat of Dorian is over.

Getting the labor force back to work will also be a challenge when Dorian finally passes later this week. Families are displaced across the country, many homes will be uninhabitable, and communities will still be picking up the pieces. Roads are likely to be dangerous or impassible as well, adding to concerns about shipping necessary products. Some aid organizations are choosing to deliver supplies like food and water by helicopter to areas already impacted since extensive debris litters roads and makes ground transportation impossible.

Hurricane Dorian’s Destruction

  •      •     Five confirmed deaths, though this number is anticipated to rise as rescue efforts persist
  •      •     Storm surges between 12 – 18 feet hit Grand Bahama Island, causing extensive flooding
  •      •     An estimated 13,000 homes have been completely destroyed or rendered uninhabitable (approximately 45% of all homes on Grand Bahama and Abaco)
  •      •     Winds reaching upwards of 185 mph
  •      •     60,000 – 62,000 people will need to be provided with food and water according to the Red Cross
  •      •     Airports are closed – Hurricane Dorian has caused more than 1,300 flights to be canceled within, as well as into and out of, the US.
  •      •     Several Florida ports have closed including Port Canaveral, Port Everglades, Jaxport, Port of Tampa Bay and the Port of Palm Beach

The recovery efforts in the Bahamas will undoubtedly be extensive. Many nodes of the supply chain were broken or stalled by Dorian and need to be fixed before recovery efforts can truly move forward. These are a few of the ways that the government and private organizations are working to keep supplies flowing and the supply chain operational:

  •      •     The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration expanded its Hours of Service regulations suspension to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
  •      •     Police in Florida are escorting gas trucks in order to keep fuel moving to areas in need
  •      •     Highway authorities are reversing lanes to make room for evacuees
  •      •     More than 5,000 national guardsmen and 2,700 active-duty personnel have been deployed or positioned to respond in 24 hours or less

“We are in the midst of a historic tragedy in parts of the northern Bahamas,” said Prime Minister Hubert A. Minnis said at a news conference late on September 2, 2019. “Our mission and focus now is search, rescue and recovery. I ask for your prayers for those in affected areas and for our first responders.”

While the world watches to see the final results of Hurricane Dorian’s destruction, supply chain and logistics professionals work tirelessly to get things back to normal. Food, safe water, medical supplies, fuel, and just about every other necessity rely on the supply chain.

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.

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