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Inventory Management Blog Post

Inventory Management’s Crucial Role in the Supply Chain

What is Inventory Management and Why is it Important?

 Inventory management refers to the process of ordering, storing and using a company’s goods or materials. Successfully managing inventory allows businesses to meet the demand level of their consumers with an appropriate amount of supply. Ineffective management can result in excess inventory which runs the risk of spoilage, damage or a shift in demand that causes stock to pile up even further. If inventory isn’t sold before any of these happen, it is often sold at clearance prices or destroyed.

 In a survey of 2,467 U.S. supply chain professionals conducted by the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), 58% of respondents reported that inventory management is a top technical skill in their field. It’s an essential component of keeping supply chains running smoothly. Effective inventory management requires a reliable technology platform and communication between all parties involved.

 Without inventory management, businesses would experience higher levels of waste and excess storage costs. Communicating with customers about product availability and estimated shipping dates becomes impossible when accurate and up-to-date information is missing.

 How Can I Improve Inventory Management in My Supply Chain?

 Effective supply chain management starts with technology. Eliminating traditional and often manual strategies saves time and reduces the risk of error. Digitally managing operations makes any information recorded simpler to share across an entire supply chain. If your company has already implemented a transportation management system (TMS), you’re already halfway to full supply chain optimization!

 Transportation management and inventory management are two essential parts of a successful supply chain. Transportation management systems (TMS) deal with the movement of products across the supply chain and provide a necessary platform for carriers, shippers and manufacturers to communicate. Inventory management platforms focus specifically on the quantity and type of product in a warehouse or other storage facility. Together, these pieces of technology form the basis for companies to get their products into the hands of customers as efficiently as possible.

For instance, when a company leverages a TMS to react quickly to a customer’s order, product moves swiftly out of the warehouse and is no longer taking up inventory space. That space is then available for fresher inventory to replace it. Inventory management systems can react to those quick shipments and ensure that the oldest inventory is being shipped first.

Tracking spoiled or faulty inventory is also made easier when inventory management and a TMS work hand in hand. With a TMS, products are tracked down to the SKU level and can be easily traced once they leave the warehouse. When an item is on recall, inventory management teams have all the relevant information they need to find and isolate bad product.

Certain transportation management systems like Kuebix TMS are able to integrate directly with ERPs like NetSuite or Microsoft Dynamics. When integrated, these technologies offer logistics professionals increased shipment accuracy by eliminating the need for manual entry, significant time savings, and access to meaningful analytics for SKU-level cost allocation.  Integrations between a TMS and an ERP can help bridge the gap between inventory management and transportation management by sharing data between systems to make sure all parties involved have accurate, real-time information on inventory.

What is a Transportation Management System TMS?

What is a Transportation Management System (TMS)?

The term ‘Transportation Management System’ or TMS has become more common in the supply chain industry as companies turn to technology to stay competitive in a changing marketplace. Technology has revolutionized everything from how we watch TV, to how we buy our groceries, and even how we meet each other. It’s unsurprising, therefore, that a key component of the American economy (the movement of goods, materials and other freight) would eventually turn to technology to keep pace. Transportation management systems are the logical next step. Now, companies of all sizes are researching transportation management systems to learn more about how technology can save them money, streamline logistics operations and improve customer satisfaction.

But What Exactly is A Transportation Management System or TMS?

Definition – According to Gartner, an analyst firm providing companies with insight, advice and tools to evaluate technology:

“A TMS (transportation management system) is used to plan freight movements, do freight rating and shopping across all modes, select the appropriate route and carrier, and manage freight bills and payments.”

Simply put, a TMS is a system that companies can use to digitally manage their freight operations instead of calling and emailing internal and external partners. Transportation management systems often sit between a company’s ERP system and a warehouse management system (WMS) and connect the two for increased supply chain efficiency. Orders flowing between these systems create continuity and speed up the time from customer order to final delivery.

At their core, most transportation management systems have rating, booking and tracking functionality. Others have advanced reporting and dashboards, freight pay and audit, and other modular features that can be added as needed. Transportation management systems come in all shapes and sizes, so it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are some of the potential benefits companies can gain by implementing a TMS:

  •      •     Save money and grow your bottom-line
  •      •     Save time and repurpose labor to value-added projects instead of “firefighting”
  •      •     Improve customer satisfaction
  •      •     Get insight into your operations to make strategic changes
  •      •     Simplify collaboration with supply chain stakeholders
  •      •     Grow your business!

Step-by-Step Guide on What You Need to Know About Transportation Management Systems (TMS)

Types of Transportation Management Software – Transportation management systems have been around since the 1980s, but they’ve come a long way from the clunky, monolithic machines of the past. Now there are many varieties which cater to companies from every industry and of any size. Some TMSs focus on small – to – medium-sized businesses (SMB) and only offer very basic functionality including rating and booking. Many TMSs that cater to a smaller market don’t offer customization or advanced features like reporting and analytics or integrations. Instead, they focus on being low total cost to own (TCO).

Other TMSs focus on the high end of the market and cater to enterprise-size companies. These TMSs often only have a few customers and their price-points make it nearly impossible for smaller companies to benefit from them. According to Adrian Gonzalez, President of Adelante SCM, “In the case of shippers, large enterprises (over $1 billion in revenues) were the early adopters of transportation management systems (TMS), due in large part to the high cost of buying and implementing on-premise applications (typically over $1 million).”

Kuebix IntegrationsEnterprise-class TMSs usually offer advanced functionality like integrations, freight pay and audit, order and route optimization, and many other features. Unfortunately, most of these legacy systems come as a complete (and pricey) set, leaving companies who don’t need certain features with a bill for the technology they won’t use.

The solution to this is to find a TMS that will expand and contract along-side your business so that you always have the features you need and aren’t paying for the ones you don’t. It’s important to realize that not all companies operate in the same way, and a scalable transportation management does just that. Transportation management systems like Kuebix TMS are built to serve companies of all sizes and needs.

Kuebix Free Shipper was the industry’s first truly free TMS and has removed all barriers to entry to SMB customers looking for rating, booking and tracking functionality. Companies looking for financial management, advanced analytics and other premium features can upgrade to Kuebix Business Pro and Kuebix Enterprise and then seamlessly add additional features.

What’s the Difference Between Cloud-based / SaaS, and On-Premise TMS?

Besides being geared toward specific audiences, transportation management systems are housed and accessed in two different ways. The traditional way which many early adopters of transportation technology used was on-premise software.

On-premise software is installed and run directly on local computers. This requires a representative from the TMS provider to physically install the TMS “on-premise” at the user’s headquarters so that the company can gain access to it. This can cause difficulties whenever a problem arises or a new version needs to be updated, not to mention the customer’s inability to take their TMS on the road with them.

Cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) TMS are becoming strongly preferred over on-premise software. They are much more agile and easier to install, maintain, and upgrade, leading to a faster return on investment (ROI) and less hassle.Cloud-based platforms create an opportunity for next-level collaboration across supply chains. With software that is housed on the “cloud” (online), users can access it from anywhere, even from mobile devices, and aren’t constrained to “the four walls” of their office building.

Most cloud-based transportation management systems are sold as software-as-a-service (SaaS). This means that users subscribe to the technology on a monthly or annual basis instead of purchasing the technology outright. Not only is this more cost-effective, it also means that users are always on the most recent version of the software.

What is the Core Functionality of a Transportation Management System (TMS)?

As mentioned above, most transportation management systems provide these three core features:

  1. Rating: Any logistics professional with a TMS can easily find rates for their customers’ orders and book those orders for delivery.
  2. Booking: Instead of needing to call individual carriers or visit each carrier’s website, the user can simply access the TMS to see all of their negotiated rates laid out side-by-side. Picking the rate with the best price and service level is both faster and easier!
  3. Tracking: Transportation management systems provide detailed tracking information on shipments all the way from the warehouse to their final destination.

Together, these features unlock potential for improved operational efficiencies and increased visibility throughout the supply chain.

Common Transportation Management System (TMS) Upgrades

Though most TMSs provide the standard rating, booking and tracking, other more advanced TMSs also offer additional features. These can sometimes be added on in a modular fashion so that the user only pays for what they need, or may come as a package deal with the TMS. Here are some of the common capabilities of more advanced transportation management systems:

  •      •     Freight Pay and Audit – This feature helps companies automatically audit each carrier invoice. TMSs like Kuebix indicate which bills are within the predetermined threshold and can be paid and calls-out others which do not fall within the limit. This makes it much faster for financial teams to pay carriers and helps them avoid overpaying on accident.
  •      •     Order Integrations – An integration between the TMS and an ERP or a financial system like NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics, or QuickBooks can vastly improve the speed and accuracy of booking. Order information flows directly from the ERP system and automatically populates within the TMS so that users never need to re-key information. This eliminates user-error which can lead to endless firefighting and incorrect deliveries.
  •      •     Order and Route Optimization – Some TMSs offer load and route consolidation and optimization through algorithms within their technology. The system can suggest the most efficient and cost-effective method of shipping a group of orders and the user can book the load quickly and easily.
  •      •     Reports and Dashboards – Analytics are a major draw for many companies interested in improving their logistics processes. Actionable reports and dashboards let users understand every detail of their freight spend and make strategic decisions on the basis of data. They can be used to evaluate carrier KPIs, total freight spend by item, and to provide insight to leadership.

Order and Route Optimization Infographic What is a Transportation Management System TMS?

How Can a Transportation Management System (TMS) Software Save Me Money on Freight Spend?

Compare Rates: Transportation management systems let users automatically access all their negotiated carrier rates side-by-side for easy viewing and comparing. TMS users save time by no longer switching between individual carrier websites but instead have all their tariff information contained in one, user-friendly screen. Often, logistics professionals don’t have time to check the rate with every carrier, so inevitably end up missing out on quality rates. With a TMS users can choose the most attractive rate out of all their carriers for each shipment, saving them money on every load.

Pay Bills Correctly: Invoice audit is another way many companies use a TMS to save on total freight spend. Often, accidental or incorrect charges can be added to a shipment. Things like lift-gate fees and incorrect detention charges can increase the final amount on an invoice. These miscellaneous accessorial fees are easy to overlook when manually auditing invoices and are often even intentionally ignored because they waste too much time to rectify. These fees add up quickly, however, so having a system to automatically audit every carrier invoice can save huge amounts each year.

Understand Freight Spend: With a TMS that isn’t tied to a certain carrier or 3PL, users can access all of their rates side-by-side in an unbiased way. And with the addition or reports and analytics, users know exactly how well each carrier is performing on each lane. With this knowledge and understanding of the market rate, TMS users are positioned to negotiate for better rates and service levels with their partner carriers. This saves money overall and helps to improve relationships and customer service all at once.

Gain Visibility: Shippers leveraging a TMS like Kuebix also gain benefits from improved visibility to their supply chain operations.  All stakeholders can use the common platform to plan their moves, receive alerts to changes as they occur, see every status update made, and make real-time adjustments to keep the supply chain moving smoothly and the customer happy. By sharing a single common system, suppliers can plan inventory levels more effectively to offer better customer service. Carriers can move shipments in and out more efficiently, making their operations more cost effective and the customer can improve the management of their inbound operations and warehouse.

Optimization: For companies with large or complex supply chains, features like order and route optimization can also save significant money. This is because manually building the perfect load is a challenge, and more often than not too time-consuming to bother with. There are countless factors a logistics professional needs to take into consideration such as delivery date, location, class, weight and size. Weighing all of these factors without the help of technology usually results in missed opportunities and wasted resources. Instead of pouring through spreadsheets and manually grouping orders onto a single truck, Load Builders and Optimizers can be leveraged to help logistics teams build and optimize the perfect load every time to save significant money.

Click here to see how one company saved $2.2 million dollars in cost-avoidance within one year by leveraging a TMS!

Will a TMS Save Me Time?

Many people are concerned that a TMS won’t actually save them time because they’ve been doing their job for years and know how to do it like the back of their hand. While “tribal” knowledge and relationships gained over a career aren’t easily replaced, a TMS can speed up even the most seasoned logistics professional. Instead of managing an inbox and voicemail of hundreds of loads, every load and stop on a route is tracked in one place. Spreadsheets are no longer required to transfer order information back and forth and users can spend more of their valuable time working on strategic projects instead of troubleshooting errors.

Many transportation management systems can be implemented within a matter of days or weeks. The cloud-based nature of the platform makes online updates and troubleshooting significantly easier for users. Simplified installation and upkeep leads to significant and long-term time and money savings.

From shippers with only a few loads a week to enterprises with hundreds of complex orders to sort through each day, leveraging technology can save countless hours. ERP integrations to automatically flow order information back and forth between systems not only improves accuracy but also makes the process of rating and booking much faster. Auditing and optimization features remove previously tedious processes and result in a faster speed from order to delivery. A few minutes saved per order adds up quickly no matter what size company is doing the shipping.

Inmod Furniture Case Study

Not all transportation management systems (TMS’s) are created equal. Make sure to be aware of these common TMS challenges and if you’re thinking of implementing a TMS within your organization:

  •      •     Not every TMS supports all modes of transportation

What to ask: Ask the TMS provider what modes of transportation they do support and whether support is included in all of their purchase levels. Find out if they support full truckload (FTL), less-than-load (LTL), ground freight, air, intermodal, and ocean.

  •      •     The technology wasn’t built on the cloud

What to ask: Find out whether the technology is/ has always been housed on the cloud. If it hasn’t been, make sure that customer reviews reflect the provider’s ability to support a cloud-based technology. Many legacy transportation management systems have not had smooth transitions to a SaaS cloud-based model.

  •      •     Biased in favor of one carrier or 3PL

What to ask: Ask whether the technology is owned by a carrier or 3PL. If it is, determine whether you will be able to add all of your negotiated carrier rates to be viewed side-by-side in the technology. Many TMSs owned by a carrier or 3PL have preferred rates which could detract from your savings. Remember, a TMS should give you an agnostic way to find the best carrier rates.

  •      •     Bad customer reviews

What to ask: Ask to see some customer references before deciding on a TMS. If the TMS provider cannot show you any customer case studies or videos, that should be a red flag. Check out technology review sites like Capterra and Gartner Peer Insights for unbiased reviews from real customers.

TMS’s Can Be Integrated with Users’ ERP Systems

Most transportation management systems (TMS) have several out of the box ERP integrations but can also customize an integration for any ERP system capable of sending and consuming data. Shippers can seamlessly integrate with some of the most popular ERP systems including NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics.

ERP integrations are commonly added to a TMS like Kuebix to increase efficiencies for shippers and drive cost savings. These integrations allow information like product and order details to flow automatically from an ERP or ordering system directly into TMS software and vice versa. This means that users don’t need to waste their time rekeying data between different systems and removes the risk of human error.

So, what is a Transportation Management System?

A TMS is a tool that any size company can use to improve the efficiency of their shipping processes. TMSs like Kuebix TMS help companies capitalize on supply chain opportunities through visibility, control and the use of predictive analytics. Kuebix TMS allows all supply chain stakeholders to collaborate on a single platform. Actionable analytics and detailed tracking information help to improve customer service. And since Kuebix is built on the latest cloud technology, it can be implemented quickly so that any company can begin seeing rapid ROI.

In conclusion, to learn about Kuebix TMS visit here.

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

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

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

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

Supply Chain Challenges During Covid-19

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

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

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

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

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

Leveraging Cloud-Based Technology for Collaboration

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

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

Connecting with Digitized Freight Platforms to Find Additional Capacity

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

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

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

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

How Kuebix is Helping Shippers During Covid-19

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


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

G2 Blog Image

We’re In the Leaders Category in the G2 Grid® for Transportation Management Systems

Kuebix, a Trimble Company, has advanced from the High Performers category to the Leaders category in the G2 Grid® for Transportation Management Systems! The grid spotlights the highest-scoring transportation management systems (TMS) based on verified user reviews and aims to help shippers evaluate the best TMS options. Kuebix has an overall score of 4.8 out of 5-stars.

G2 is a respected, unbiased source of real user reviews for all types of technologies. The company scores products and vendors based on reviews gathered from its user community, as well as data aggregated from online sources and social networks. G2 applies a unique algorithm (v3.0) to its data to calculate the customer Satisfaction and Market Presence scores in real-time.

“Being recognized as a Leader in this year’s G2 Grid® for Transportation Management Systems shows the value of our connected community and industry-leading technology,” said Dan Clark, VP of Product Innovation & Strategy at Kuebix, a Trimble Company. “Receiving this recognition proves that we have been able to overwhelmingly satisfy our customers, which is our #1 priority at Kuebix.”

Users of Kuebix TMS who left reviews on G2 said:

  • “Easy to use and great support,” said one operations professional.
  • “Kuebix is the best!!! Kuebix is super user-friendly and very efficient to use,” said one Logistics Manager.
  • “Kuebix is a huge timesaver! I love how Kuebix lets us sort through quotes from all of our different vendors,” said one user in the Wholesale industry.

Click here to view Kuebix’s full profile on G2 and read other verified user reviews.

About G2, Inc.

The world’s leading marketplace for business software and services, G2 drives better purchasing decisions. Business professionals, buyers, investors, and analysts use the site to compare and select the best software and services based on more than 500,000 peer reviews and synthesized social data. Over 23 million business buyers around the world have trusted G2 to gain unique insights. Co-founded in 2012, G2 aims to bring authenticity and transparency to the business marketplace. The company also offers scholarships to college students who are aspiring entrepreneurs.

To learn more about G2 or write a review, please visit https://www.g2.com/.

 

AI ML Predictive Analytics

Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Predictive Analytics in the Supply Chain

The world of transportation and logistics management looks completely different than it did even 50 years ago. Gone are the days of pen and paper and jotting down haphazard notes when on the telephone with a carrier booking freight. Now, technology is now ruling supreme. With the advent of advanced cloud-based transportation management systems, there is a cornucopia of detailed data that can be stored and accessed on the cloud. Just about every touchpoint in the supply chain can create data, and lots of it, from initial order through final mile delivery. You might hear this type of data referred to as “Big Data.” Simply having Big Data isn’t enough to improve your supply chain, however. It’s what you do with the data that can revolutionize your business.

There are several buzzwords circulating the technology industry that relate to the use of this new-found trove of information. These terms are “Predictive Analytics,” “Machine Learning (ML),” and “Artificial Intelligence (AI).” Each of these buzzwords refers to advanced processes for leveraging Big Data to improve processes and business outcomes.

If you’re like many shippers in an industry undergoing rapid change, you’re probably wondering how these terms apply to you.

Predictive Analytics

Definition: Predictive analytics refers to the concept of extracting information from data (such as from Big Data) using technology in order to decipher patterns and extrapolate likely future outcomes. In other words, using data to forecast what might happen in “what-if?” scenarios.

You might be able to imagine a situation in which predictive analytics could help your company’s supply chain. Maybe you want to know the likely delivery times on a specific lane so that you can determine the lead time you need for manufacturing your product. Or perhaps you want to estimate the likely disruption you’ll experience in the wake of a forecasted hurricane about the hit your service area. These and many other “what-if?” questions can be answered (as close as possible) with the help of predictive analytics.

If you’re like many shippers, this type of advanced technology might seem outside of your grasp. With the help of a transportation management system with built-in predictive analytics functionality, however, any shipper can leverage this futuristic tech. TMSs can provide predictive analytics to give you the immediate intelligence you need to make better logistics decisions every day. Whether it’s holding your carriers accountable through carrier scorecards, managing your yards and docks more efficiently, or simply ensuring that you are paying the lowest rates for the best service, predictive analytics gives you the information you need to make decisions that will be real game-changers for your business.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Definition: Artificial intelligence, often refered to as simply AI, is the practice of training computers to perform tasks that would typically require human-level intelligence to complete.

You’ve probably come across several different forms of AI in your day to day life. Common examples include Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa technologies. These are artificial “humans” which can listen and provide back answers as though having a real-life conversation. In the supply chain industry, artificial intelligence can come in the form of information gathering platforms for customers and suppliers to interact within. Chatbot interfaces and other data-gathering technologies can help retailers, manufacturers and customers work together more collaboratively. AI can help to identify trends and analyze changes in demand.

Machine Learning

Definition: Machine learning is the a branch of artificial intelligence and refers to the method that computers use to learn and change their behaviors based on data gathered through analytical model building. This concept is based on the idea that a computer can process data, much like a human’s brain can, and change its decision making processes to suit the new information without human intervention.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence often get confused because of their close correlation. The simplest way to understand their differences are through examples. One example of ML-based technology is that of any streaming music app. These apps make suggestions to the user based on location, demographics, and other inputs. This is an example of AI. What makes it an example of machine learning is the fact that music apps often “learn” their users’ preferences. As a user spends time listening or fast-forwarding past certain songs, the technology learns the user’s preferences and can suggest more relevant music. Other examples of technologies that “learn” include spam filters on email servers and ads displayed on social media accounts based on past purchases.

While AI is a system designed to act with intelligence, ML is a system designed to use information and learn from it, creating a decision or insight. In the supply chain, machine learning uses historical data to improve existing processes, define new routes, uncover bottlenecks, discover shipping errors and more. It is adaptive so that the data utilized increases efficiencies while providing value to shippers and carriers for things like pricing models.

In an article in Forbes, Machine Learning (ML) is described as making it “possible to discover patterns in supply chain data by relying on algorithms that quickly pinpoint the most influential factors to a supply networks’ success, while constantly learning in the process.”

Determining What’s Best for Your Business

Many people are confused about the differences between predictive analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Predictive analytics uses data to help you understand possible future events by analyzing the past. It uses a variety of statistical techniques, including machine learning and predictive modeling, along with current and historical statistics to predict future outcomes, which may be customer behaviors or market changes.

Bill Cassidy in the JOC says to “think of AI as Machine Learning on steroids. It functions through an ongoing series of algorithms and internet-connected devices, the Internet of Things (IoT), to make data-based decisions before shippers overlook something.” AI can help to better manage freight bills by automating audit and payment processes to uncover billing and compliance issues, for which it can then trigger chargebacks to carriers.

With AI, you can proactively identify potential disruptions, such as changes in weather patterns that can lead to flooding. Proactively mitigating risk ensures your shipments can be made on time to the right place for the right price.

Predictive analytics, AI and ML may overlap in certain areas, but these technologies can help us to uncover hidden capacity or make important cost-to-serve decisions by viewing carrier rates side-by-side. The bottom line is that technology is making shipping operations smarter for companies of all sizes.

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.

How to Choose the Right TMS for Your Company

How to Choose the Right TMS for Your Company

Choosing the right transportation management system for your company can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Whether you’re a first-time TMS buyer or a long-time user looking for an upgrade, all you need to do is arm yourself with the right questions to ask before starting your TMS search.

Answering These Questions Will Help You Find the Right TMS for Your Company

Step One: Understand Your Business

Kuebix TMS SolutionThe best place to start is to understand how your company operates and could most efficiently leverage a transportation management system. Having a complete understanding of how your company runs its logistics operations will give you a solid foundation to work from. Before doing research on specific TMS systems available, make sure you know how your logistics operations run.

  •      ☑     How many modes of transportation does my company ship with?
  •      ☑     How many shipments does my company make per month?
  •      ☑     Do we operate out of multiple locations?
  •      ☑     Are there multiple people at my company involved in the shipping process?
  •      ☑     Do we use an ERP system to streamline orders?
  •      ☑     Is routing and shipment consolidation a challenge right now?
  •      ☑     How many invoices do we audit each month?

Click here to discover which solution is right for your business: https://www.kuebix.com/productrec/

Step Two: Understand Your Goals

Understanding why you need a transportation management system will ensure that you implement a TMS that is right for your business. Ask yourself these questions to prepare yourself with a list of “must-haves” before you start researching the industry.

  •      ☑     What type of ROI do I need to see from a TMS? What’s most important:
    •      •     Time savings
    •      •     Bottom-line savings
    •      •     Error mitigation savings
  •      ☑     Does the system need to be highly user-friendly for non-technical users?
  •      ☑     Will this technology need to be able to grow and adapt as our business needs change?
  •      ☑     How much do we want to spend on implementation? How much on subscription costs?
  •      ☑     How quickly do we need to be up and running with this new technology?
  •      ☑     Will we need to integrate to any internal systems?
  •      ☑     Do we want to attain full visibility to all of our shipments?
  •      ☑     Are we looking for a way to find additional spot volume when our regularly negotiated rates don’t cover a load?

Step Three: Understand the Market

Now that you have a solid understanding of your operational functionality laid, you’ll quickly be able to eliminate unsuitable types of transportation management systems. For example, some systems brand themselves as complete TMS solutions, but are in reality, only rate aggregators. If you are looking for a place to conduct all of your logistics operations, you’ll know right away that a simple solution like a rate aggregator won’t work for your company. Alternatively, you may be able to eliminate other TMS solutions that require you to purchase all available features, even ones you won’t use. This will help to narrow down the field quickly.

In your day to day life you probably rely on word-of-mouth and review sites to make important purchases. Buying a TMS shouldn’t be any different. Make sure to check out reputable review sites and research from 3rd party consultancies. These will give you unbiased accounts of the top TMS options available on the market.

Check out these resources to discover some of the leading TMS vendors:

Step Four: Understand a Specific Transportation Management System

10 Essential Questions Datasheet Image Kuebix TMS

Once you’ve reviewed some of the leading research and review sites to discover which TMS solutions have the best reputations for success, you’re ready to dive into researching specific TMSs. Below is a list of questions you should answer when evaluating a specific transportation management system. These questions will help you choose the right TMS for your business.

Download this list as a PDF to have with you during your evaluation process.

  •      ☑     How do current customers rank this TMS on review sites? (Gartner Peer Insights, Capterra, G2)
  •      ☑     What will the implementation process look like and what is the expected turn-around time?
  •      ☑     Will this TMS work for teams across my company? (Logistics, sales, customer support, etc.)
  •      ☑     Are there benefits for being a member of this TMS’ community such as a spot market?
  •      ☑     Will this TMS save me time with a user friendly UI and simple processes?
  •      ☑     Does this TMS have a history of creating outstanding ROI for its users?
  •      ☑     Does this TMS give preferential treatment to any carriers or brokers?
  •      ☑     Will this TMS be able to adapt and grow alongside my business?
  •      ☑     Can I manage all modes of transportation with this TMS?
  •      ☑     Is this TMS cloud-based or a monolithic, in-house model

By following these four steps you will be in the best position to choose the TMS that is right for your business. Click here to contact Kuebix and we would be happy to work with you directly to help you understand your company’s specific needs. After all, the decision to implement a transportation management system can have positive ramifications throughout your entire company and we want to make sure you get the most benefits from your final choice.

Fleet Backhaul Management - Kuebix

What You Need to Do to Make Fleet Backhaul Management Easy

Fleet backhaul management is a notoriously difficult task that fleet owners and operators are all too familiar with. When a truck returns from making a delivery it is usually empty. This is known as “driving empty” or “empty miles.” Even though there is no freight on the trailer, drivers still need to be paid, fuel is used up and trucks depreciate in value. The expense of empty miles are usually calculated into the freight rate ahead of time, but this capacity still presents an opportunity for fleet owners to generate additional revenue for direct bottom-line impact.

Instead of having fleet assets return empty, finding freight to haul on the return trip can create a win-win situation for both the shipper and the fleet owner. Shippers find a new, valuable source of capacity and fleets generate bottom-line revenue. So why has it been so hard up until now to manage fleet backhauls?

Why Traditional Fleet Backhaul Management is So Difficult

Managing a fleet is difficult enough without finding freight to carry on the return trip. When companies do try to generate some additional revenue by filling empty backhaul miles, they can find themselves wasting more time sourcing opportunities than actually moving freight.

Loads Must Meet Certain Parameters

The process of finding available freight is more complicated than simply finding freight that needs to move in the opposite direction the original delivery is headed. There are many other parameters that need to be considered too. Things like Haz-Mat, food-grade and temp control all need to be taken into account. Other parameters like noise regulation or truck size in neighborhoods can also make a difference between a good opportunity and an impossible one.

For example, a truckload order of refrigerated groceries leaves York, PA heading to New York City. After it leaves from New York, the truck typically drives back to York, PA with an empty trailer. The fleet owner looks for a food-grade backhaul opportunity along this route. If they’re lucky, the fleet owner might find a load that needs to travel from Allentown to Harrisburg or even directly back to York. This would reduce the total number of empty miles driven.

Finding Opportunities and Getting Paid Can Be Challenging

This scenario adds bottom-line revenue for the company. But finding that opportunity is easier said than done. It can take an entire team of logistics professionals to source and secure that backhaul opportunity. After the opportunity has been successfully matched with the truck type and other delivery parameters, the fleet still needs a way to invoice for its work and get paid. Doing one-off deliveries for a variety of shippers can be a headache for everyone involved.

Since the process of finding, booking and getting paid for backhaul freight is so difficult and time-consuming, it’s no wonder that many fleet owners decide not to look for backhaul opportunities and stick to their everyday fleet management.

How to Make Fleet Backhaul Management Easy

The answer is to tap into a community.

Fleet backhaul management becomes easy when fleets find and connect with an existing community of shippers and brokers looking for capacity. Instead of individually sourcing loads on a one-by-one basis, fleets instead have a single source to work through. Programs like Kuebix FleetMAX are giving fleets an easy way to expose their available capacity to thousands of shippers while at the same time streamlining the AR/AP process.

Why Kuebix FleetMAX is a Game Changer

With FleetMAX, Kuebix’s technology digitally matches fleet capacity with freight to obtain consistent and repetitive external backhauls to offset empty miles, add revenue to fleet operations, and provide shippers/brokers a new source of trusted capacity.

Kuebix also overcomes the administrative obstacle of charging the shipper and collecting the funds. With FleetMAX, all of the financials and settlements are managed through one of the most trusted names in the industry, Estes Truckload Management, relieving private fleets of these administrative challenges.

After a fleet joins the network through FleetMAX, their open capacity becomes available to Kuebix’s connected shipping community which includes thousands of shippers and brokers looking for capacity. For fleets, this means they can focus on picking up and delivering orders, not chasing opportunities or managing individual contracts with shippers.

Click here to learn more about getting started managing your fleet backhauls with FleetMAX!

Kuebix TMS Half Year Predictions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prediction: Intensified technological disruption and innovation.

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


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

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

blockchain kuebix

Blockchain and Cloud-based Platforms Usher In New Era of Complex Data Streams in Freight Shipping

Blockchain and cloud-based platforms are revolutionizing the way logistics operations are being conducted around the world. Big Data has been a hot topic in the industry for years, but the way to truly harness it has remained out of reach for many companies. Blockchain technologies and cloud-based platforms are changing the narrative. Now, complex data streams from logistics operations are being funneled through these technologies to make shipping freight more efficient as supply chains continue to become more complex.

What is Blockchain?

According to Merriam-Webster, blockchain is “a digital database containing information (such as records of financial transactions) that can be simultaneously used and shared within a large decentralized, publicly accessible network.”

In layman’s terms, blockchain is a technology that lets companies track and initiate an action based on a digital or physical event. For example, blockchain technology can help trace contaminated food products when there has been a safety recall. Blockchain technologies act as a single source of truth that can be referred back to at any time, much like a ledger for every interaction. Here are 30+ Real Examples of Blockchain Technology In Practice from Forbes.

What are Cloud-based Platforms in the Supply Chain?

Cloud-based platforms in the supply chain are also streamlining Big Data repositories and making them actionable and transparent. Platforms such as cloud-based enterprise management systems (ERP), transportation management systems (TMS), and warehouse management systems (WMS) can track and trace the lifecycle of a product from initial order all the way through customer returns. When these systems integrate and combine with external tracking devices, they can have the same benefits as blockchain as a service (BaaS) technologies, only in a more accessible form.

ELDs, RFIDs, GPS, Sensors and Gate Check Technologies

Tracking technology is becoming more prevalent as costs associated with implementation lessen. Blockchain and cloud-based platforms consolidate all of the data generated by devices like ELDs, RFIDs, GPS, Sensors and Gate Check technologies into actionable reports and dashboards. Actions can even be predetermined to initiate when a physical or digital event type occurs. Now, companies can retain real-time visibility to their pallets, trucks, drivers, and even individual products no matter where they are in the supply chain.

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review describes how blockchain and platforms will transform logistics. “Data created by sensors, ERP systems, inventory palettes, and shipping events can automatically add records to the blockchain, which can launch cascading events farther along the value chain.” Being able to see the moment when a container leaves the port and being able to track individual products from that container to customers is a level of visibility that hasn’t been available before.

Why do Supply Chains Need These Types of Technology?

Our world is shrinking, metaphorically. Globalization has made it commonplace for an end product to contain materials from all over the world. When you buy an iPhone, you may actually be buying an accelerometer from Germany, a battery from China, a camera from Japan, a Gyroscope from Switzerland and a glass screen for the United States. Being able to track and initiate actions based on completed events such as when a shipment of batteries has left the port in Shanghai speeds up the supply chain and mitigates risk.

Customer expectations around visibility and speed are also increasing, almost exponentially. 15 years ago, it may have been acceptable to receive an order purchased online in 3 – 4 weeks. Now, consumers are demanding their products in as few as 2 days, with 1-day shipping and even 1-hour shipping already on many retailers’ minds. Amazon’s 1-day delivery promise to their Prime members has added pressure to companies just now becoming used to faster shipping times. With blockchain or a cloud-based, data-centralizing platform, companies can initiate actions to keep their supply chains moving without waiting for a physical paper trail to catch up.

According to FedEx business fellow and blockchain strategist, Dale Chrystie:

“Twenty year ago, you put the word ‘internet’ in front of everything and now you don’t. Today, we’re putting the word ‘blockchain’ in front of everything and I don’t think we’re going to in the future; it’s just going to be the way it works.”

Big Data has proved lucrative to those companies who have been able to harness it to understand their customers and streamline their logistics operations. New blockchain technologies and cloud-based platforms are providing this opportunity to companies worldwide, but the changing market structure may appear too complex for some. Companies that adapt quickly will find that they gain a competitive advantage over those companies that do not leverage technology in their freight shipping.

 

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How Virtual Reality is Transforming the Trucking Industry

Virtual reality (VR) is most commonly known for its recreational use in video games. However, the advanced application of technology is beginning to gain traction and be recognized for its improvement of training programs in a multitude of industries. Forbes Magazine reported that VR-based training programs can reduce the amount of time it takes to train a new hire by 40% and improve that employee’s performance by 70% in comparison to a traditionally trained new hire. Through the incorporation of programs involving VR, companies can cut costs and improve performance at the same time.

Virtual Reality in Trucking

The trucking industry is no exception to this steadily rising trend. UPS has estimated that by the end of 2018, they will have put 4,000 new package delivery van drivers through a training program that involves virtual reality.

With VR-based training programs, new hires have the ability to train for their new position as a driver without incurring costs related to insurance, gas, maintenance, or repairs. Traditional methods of training require either physical experience on the roads or watching videos of other people explaining the dos and don’ts of vehicle operation. While physical experience can be costly and tutorial-like videos can be disengaging, virtual reality eliminates both of these concerns and promotes a hands-on, remote method of training.

Companies who implement virtual reality into their standard training methods are also finding that it reduces the risk associated with traditional approaches. Potential accidents or vehicle damage that may happen during the training process are both costly and dangerous. Through VR-based training programs these two scenarios are avoided. In fact, programs can actually give new hires a chance to repeat dangerous situations that are rare and often times turn out to be costly. If the driver ends up in that situation or a similar one later down the line, they will be better equipped and feel more prepared for how to handle it.

According to a report by the American Trucking Associations, approximately 90,000 truck drivers need to be replaced each year for the next decade to combat the truck driver shortage the industry is experiencing throughout America. VR-based training programs teach new drivers quicker than traditional methods, getting them out on the roads faster while still being just as effective.

Not including the cost of accidents, traditional styles of training for truck driving can cost up to $7,000. Despite the growing need for more drivers in the industry, many companies cannot afford such a steep price. Companies adopting VR-based training are experiencing lower costs as well as better quality training programs that are finished in less time. Although it requires an initial investment, VR-based training programs are rapidly gaining traction in the trucking industry.

 

Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference 2019 - Kuebix TMS

Join Kuebix at the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference 2019

The team from Kuebix will be exhibiting and speaking this year at the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference 2019! This conference is the world’s most important gathering of supply chain leaders and promises to be a great event. The Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference takes place May 13 – 16 at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Arizona.

Kuebix will be showcasing our transportation management system (TMS) and doing demos at our booth. Our technology is the industry’s fastest-growing TMS with over 16,000 companies within the Kuebix shipping community already. If you’re planning to attend the conference, we’d love to schedule a demonstration at our booth. Click here to request a meeting through this link.

Dan Clark, Kuebix Founder and President, will also be speaking at the conference. Dan’s session, Community Powered TMS: Driving Profits for Shippers and Carriers, will teach attendees how a cloud-based transportation management system can be the foundation of a vast shipping community where shippers and carriers realize new levels of efficiency and savings.

Dan’s speaking session will begin at 5:15 PM on Wednesday, May 15 and take place in the Grand Saguaro Foyer at the JW Marriot. We hope to see you there!

About the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference 2019

Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference 2019 is the world’s most important gathering of supply chain leaders. Disruptions large and small confront today’s supply chains on a daily basis. At this year’s conference, chief supply chain officers and their leadership teams focus on how to recognize the impacts of disruptions and create transformational strategies that empower the organization to exceed performance expectations.

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.

ELD Mandate Kuebix

5 Ways the ELD Mandate Has Changed the Supply Chain for the Better

The “U.S. federal government regulation specifying that operators of commercial motor vehicles covered by this law will be required to use electronic logging devices, or ELDs” was first announced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in December 2015 and the first deadline to comply was in December 2017“. Since then, the ELD Mandate has sparked conversation through businesses worldwide as they adapt to this change and debate whether or not it’s best for their supply chain. On the pro-ELD side of the debate, here are 5 ways some supply chains have reported benefits since the ELD Mandate went into effect.

Increased Accuracy

Before ELDs, records of service were kept in a logbook. This simple pen-and-paper method cannot guarantee accurate information because it leaves room for miscommunication. With ELDs, the information truckers enter into the system can instantly be sent to a recordkeeping facility or database or immediately become available to the Department of Transportation Authorities. This new and improved process protects the authenticity of the information being entered into the system and allows mistakes or miscalculations to be caught much quicker.

More Information

Management that has their fleets using full-service ELD routes now have a significantly larger amount of information on their fleet operations than they did with the traditional logbook. This new insight gives them more information on how well their operations are running and what they could do better. They have a much easier time planning maintenance for vehicles and appropriately scheduling and staffing. Carriers will also have a better idea of how traffic is affecting their routes and what they could do differently next time to avoid disruptions along with how their gas is being used and how to allocate trucks more efficiently.

Downtime for Drivers

With traditional logbooks, there were a lot of tricks available to be able to cut breaks shorter. ELDs eliminate this possibility and ensure that drivers are getting the required amount of rest between routes. Drivers who are tired are vulnerable to car accidents. Ensuring that they are recording their hours through an ELD helps protect drivers from finding themselves in these situations and makes the roads safer for everyone who drives.

Easier IFTA Calculation

Fleets are required to file IFTA reports at the end of every quarter. This process can be time-consuming and daunting for those working in administrative departments. ELDs solve this problem by automating the calculation process. This saves thousands of dollars by relieving some of the administrative pressure and operational cost. IFTA reports automated by ELDs also eliminate the possibility of inconsistencies or errors, drastically improving the accuracy and ease of the reports altogether.

Higher Profits

ELDs directly result in much higher profits through better route management, increased accuracy in time logs, unparalleled vehicle monitoring, automated IFTA reports, and a reduction in fuel waste. These all contribute to the notoriously high price of supply chains.  Although separately these aspects may seem like minor pieces of the larger supply chain puzzle, a reduction in the cost and increase in efficiency of each of these leads to an overall increase in profits for businesses.

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