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Imported Steel and Aluminum Tariffs

“My business is booming,” said one of our clients in the steel and metal industry. Another commented that “my business is through the roof!” We weren’t sure why until we asked, “What’s the big deal?”

It appears that steel and aluminum manufacturers, producers and distributors are enjoying a boost in revenues thanks to the tariffs on imported steel and aluminum that Trump is imposing. As a result, many of the companies that rely on metals affected by these tariffs aren’t sure what will happen, so they are stocking up on raw materials, parts and components.

The new tariffs will impose a 25 percent price increase on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum to protect national economic security, effective March 23. The plan has been widely criticized by government officials and corporate America who feel the tariffs will cost U.S. jobs, raise consumer prices and hit American manufacturers.

Other countries are threatening trade wars. The EU has warned it will impose a 25 percent tariff on the $3.5 billion of American goods that it imports. Trump’s next move is to impose tariffs on up to $60 million of Chinese imports of technology, telecommunications and apparel.

Many businesses feel that a cost increase is on the way and will likely be pushed down through the supply chain to other businesses like beverages and automobiles. Some US companies that use steel and aluminum in their products may reduce production in the US in favor of foreign production where they can avoid cost increases. Other policymakers think that US manufacturers will no longer have to compete with foreign materials and can instead charge higher prices.

Since many aren’t sure what will really happen as a result of the tariffs, they are building up inventory levels, buying raw materials and stocking up on parts to keep ahead of price increases or lack of materials.

Instead of worrying about stocking up on inventory, Kuebix believes that a greater focus on reducing supply chain costs is needed. As transportation is one of the biggest expenses for a company, often up to 40%, ways to lower logistics costs while boosting efficiencies are a must in this uncertain economic environment.

By leveraging Kuebix TMS, retailers and manufacturers can quickly and easily receive better rates for any transportation mode. Our free TMS, Kuebix Shipper, can even be up-and-running the same day, so companies can immediately begin offsetting costs by receiving lower rates. And by upgrading to add modular features to optimize routes and consolidate loads from LTL to FTL where possible, companies can cut down on the total cost of goods and put money back into other needs, such as raw material purchasing.

Logistics professionals uncertain about the future of steel and aluminum imports can improve their companies’ outlook by utilizing technology to cut costs.

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

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

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

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

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

How Food & Beverage Companies Can Optimize Their Inbound

Food and beverage businesses have complex supply chains with many unique characteristics: ever-changing customer tastes, tight margins on store shelves, fresh products that may spoil, expiration dates on products, 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 and beverage businesses to address these challenges while meeting business goals.

Frequently overlooked and often pushed to the bottom of a shipper’s supply chain agenda, good inbound freight management can help companies improve shipment visibility, save money, and enhance customer service—all of which add to the bottom line and boost profitability. Done right, inbound freight management does more than just help companies gain an understanding of where their shipments are in real time. It also enables better relationships with carriers and suppliers for consolidation efforts, establishes routing guides that lead to much better dock efficiency, and empowers strategies for continuous improvement initiatives.

Food and beverage companies get dozens of deliveries a day from different suppliers. These inbound shipments aren’t coordinated or consolidated, fostering inefficiencies from the excess number of deliveries. Little visibility into arrival times and frequent changes to inbound deliveries wreaks havoc at the dock and warehouse, which can make accessorial charges skyrocket and your inbound transport costs go off the charts.

Small to large food and beverage companies have found a TMS to be the perfect tool for addressing the many challenges that come with managing inbound freight. For example, one food retailer that operates over 200 stores across seven states had a couple hundred LTL deliveries per week, but by using Kuebix TMS, they were able to lower the number of deliveries to 20 or 30 per week by combining LTL deliveries into full truckload deliveries from the consolidation points. The typical cost for unloading a truck is $200, leading to approximately $34,000 in savings per week just on unloading costs!

Here are three steps you can take to start managing your inbound freight more effectively today:

1. Partner with your suppliers to lay out a plan of action. Determine the most cost-effective and efficient way to ship and unload your freight, and build a plan with your suppliers that benefits both parties. There is no “magic number” for a percentage of shipments that should be vendor-controlled vs. customer controlled. Give your suppliers a choice so that they can select the most effective service and billing procedure. Then, implement a standard routing guide for supplier compliance. This will establish a set of mandatory guidelines that will be used for all vendor-controlled (VDS) and customer pick-up (CPU) shipments. Supplier compliance programs reduce your cost of goods by making your carriers and warehouse more efficient. In the event your suppliers fail to comply, they will share in your cost through violations outlined in the routing guide.

2. Create strong alliances with your carriers. Consolidate inbound shipments to full truckload wherever possible to reduce freight and unloading costs. Reducing the number of individual LTL shipments will decrease the cost of freight, dramatically increasing the efficiency of your distribution center and significantly reducing unloading costs. Think how much more efficient your operations will be with fewer trucks and fewer deliveries. For example, unloading 10 to 14 different LTL shipments can be five times the cost of unloading a single truckload. The customer and the supplier can share all of these savings through the efficiency of consolidated shipments and drop trailer programs. By consolidating your LTL pool, you can simplify yard management and maximize consolidation opportunities. Select carriers that provide attractive rates and superior service and try to limit that set to two to four different carriers, whether the shipments are CPU or VDS. This will give each carrier enough business to ensure LTL consolidation does not affect service levels. Having a strong partnership with your carriers also opens up other opportunities for additional savings such as backhaul agreements with LTL carriers to consolidate freight to single truckload for pick up by your own fleet for the final mile.

3. Leverage technology to your advantage. Utilize a transportation management system (TMS) to maximize inbound freight management. For example, leverage your TMS to implement an allowance program for freight costs and unloading expenses with your suppliers. In most cases, allowances are negotiated once or twice a year, and rarely take into account fluctuating costs and carrier rates. Oftentimes, market rates rise above negotiated rates. Kuebix TMS enables the creation of dynamic rate allowances to ensure savings on both TL and LTL shipments by calculating the best possible real-time vendor allowances based on actual carrier rates as demand dictates. Additionally, a TMS will also automate tracking, scheduling and door assigned, which will directly reduce your labor spend. Finally, if you cannot measure something it is hard to improve it. An effective TMS will capture every relevant piece of data and return reports, dashboards and scorecards that allow you to analyze your inbound freight program and identify opportunities for increased efficiency.

Ultimately, good inbound freight management facilitated by technology helps shippers achieve cost and productivity goals that very often get overlooked in the logistics space. By taking a step back and gaining a better understanding of your current inbound environment—then working with suppliers and carriers to come up with a plan of action to improve it—you’ll be able to leverage all of the market’s capacity, get the best rates, and gain better visibility over your end-to-end supply chain.
To learn more about optimizing your inbound read “The Art of the Inbound”.

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How to use Data to Build a Stronger Carrier Relationship

Strong partnerships between carriers and shippers are important for the most efficient and effective freight operation. When shippers and carriers work together as a team, respecting one another’s time and business objectives – a win-win partnership is created that leads to continuous improvement in logistics efficiency and customer service.

How can shippers and carriers improve their relationship? Shippers should provide accurate weight and size measurements of their freight, file claims quickly, not keep drivers waiting at their warehouse and fulfill promises of consistent loads. Carriers must negotiate fairly with shippers, adhere to routing guide compliance, pickup shipments on time, invoice shippers accurately and provide a consistent level of exceptional service.

How can this be done?

The answer is technology that can help manage the carrier and shipper relationship by capturing all transactional information and using this data to foster accountability. The Kuebix Transportation Management Systems (TMS) capture data across every shipping event to provide visibility into true levels of service and efficiency. The accurate and timely data from the TMS can be used to monitor and validate communications and interactions between shippers and carriers, but Kuebix takes this one step farther.

Kuebix Carrier Relationship Manager uses this information to deliver Freight Intelligence to easily analyze the performance of carriers in the form of carrier scorecards. Typical analysis can be performed on:

  • • Carrier rate benchmarking by lane
  • • Carrier responsiveness
  • • Load acceptance rate
  • • Claims percentage by shipment – how many damages occur and by which carrier
  • • Rate exception percent
  • • On-time performance
  • • Invoice and freight bill accuracy and solving inaccuracies
  • • Driver performance
  • • Reliability of equipment and processes
  • • Documentation – accuracy, availability, etc.

Leverage this feature to work with your carriers with a set of metrics and facts rather than anecdotes. Carriers will appreciate the fact-based approach to performance monitoring, resulting in stronger relationships and improved service levels.

Keep the logistics team more organized with all contact information, schedules and tasks kept in one location. The new functionality will relieve admin of countless hours of chasing paperwork and tracking communications, while keeping carriers accountable. Carriers will benefit from clearly defined goals, while shippers will benefit from improved performance and service levels.

Kuebix Carrier Relationship Manager is a new, standard feature of Kuebix Business Pro TMS, a full-service transportation management system that features unlimited shipment management, advanced analytics, carrier scorecards, financial management with freight rate invoice and claims control, and much more. Kuebix Business Pro is available for a free 14-day trial.

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Why A Free TMS is A Really Good Thing

Some people have questioned why Kuebix is offering a free TMS and whether the free version is worth their while. The answer is a resounding, “Yes, a free TMS is really a good thing!”

When comparing apples to apples, i.e. free TMS to free TMS, it is apparent that Kuebix Shipper wins over others. Even when comparing apples to oranges, i.e. free TMS to “not free” TMS, Kuebix outshines the competition. Here’s why:

  1. Excellent Customer Service – but don’t take our word for it: “With Kuebix, we can quickly view all our carrier rates side by side and choose the best rate for our shipments. Kuebix is extremely easy to use and the customer support is exceptional.” R.L. Bunting at Chesapeake Spice
  2. UNLIMITED Shipments – Yes, you read that correctly. Some of our competition limits their shipments on paid versions and keep charging you more as your volume increases, but we don’t. Why would you pay when Kuebix has unlimited shipments for free?
  3. Supports All Transportation Modes – Some TMS vendors limit their offering to LTL shipments only. Kuebix, on the other hand, supports all modes – LTL, TL and Parcel – (even with our free version) so you can connect to all your carriers, letting you ship the way you want for the optimal cost.
  4. Multiple Users, Stored Data and So Much More – Kuebix Shipper is a single-user system, allowing any shipper to begin using the core functionality of a TMS – rate, book and track – for free. For business that want to add more users, access shipment data, and so much more, simply upgrade to Kuebix Business Pro for just $99/month.
  5. Scalability – Kuebix Shipper can be scaled up to our enterprise edition as your business grows. The Kuebix TMS uses the same software core – and as your business grows, you can easily add new functionality, without having to learn a whole new system. Our modular solution scales all the way up to the enterprise level with Premier Applications, Integrations and Managed Services to meet the needs of any supply chain.

Most importantly, the free TMS supports our vision, of a global community where all members gain value from membership. We have removed the barrier of cost to let all shippers get started with a powerful TMS and take control of their freight operations. This is similar to how the widespread adoption of affordable smart phones changed the way we communicate and interact. A TMS that is available to any size business and budget will have the same impact on the shipping world, moving it into the collaborative digital era.

A global community of shippers and service providers will help to match demand with capacity, allowing trucks to fill more efficiently.With collaboration across the community, fleets and drivers move more continuously, shippers get faster access to available capacity, and load consolidation becomes something that’s easy to accomplish.  All of this improves the bottom line – giving value to everyone in the community.

Now that is worth its weight in gold, even if it doesn’t cost you a thing.

We Reached 1000 and Counting

New users that is. And more are still being added.

Shippers are so excited about Kuebix Shipper – the world’s first free multimodal Transportation Management System (TMS) software – that we have been rapidly adding them to our worldwide shipping community. We’ve gotten over 1000 new shippers in the first weeks since our announcement.

With Kuebix Shipper, you are able to choose the mode, speed, service level and cost you need to ship orders. Previously the ability to use a TMS was prohibited for small to medium-sized businesses. Now any size business can benefit from a TMS with Kuebix Shipper.

Not only do shippers have the ability to rate, book, track and manage their TL, LTL and parcel shipments, they also gain the benefit of the community.

Why is a global shipping community important?

A large global community of shippers and service providers facilitates matching demand with capacity across supply chains, helping to fill trucks better and more efficiently. With collaboration across the community, shippers can schedule backhaul transactions, foster continuous moves and consolidate loads – giving value to everyone in the community. No longer seen as a cost center, transportation operations gain the respect of the C-Suite.

Shippers focused on reducing freight spend can take advantage of this community for immediate results. They will save thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars on freight spend through communal collaboration, along with garnering much-needed capacity during the holiday season and beyond. Shippers can collaborate with others across supply chains to cash in on lower rates resulting in increased supply chain efficiency.

Shippers are spending millions on freight and losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process due to inefficiencies, non-optimal mode selection and discrepancies. Kuebix Shipper is changing all that by being available to all businesses for no charge – giving them visibility into their freight operations – and lowering their overall transportation spend.

TMS Options Proliferate, But Not for All

This is the second in a three-part series that tracks the evolution of the TMS from the late 1990s to today. In last week’s piece I discussed the emergence of the TMS. Next week I’ll discuss the future.

When we last left transportation management systems (TMS), the high price and staff requirements of the early systems had created two groups of freight shippers, the haves, which could afford the high expense of on-prem big-box systems, and a far larger group of have-nots.

The needs of shippers struggling to replace manual processes with automation, drove widespread developments of new products, services and third parties. Most of these used different approaches for addressing the huge need for efficiency in supply chains. Meanwhile, the maturity of cloud computing was driving changes across industries and was just beginning to gain traction in logistics.

The lineup of options for shippers looking to improve their logistics operations included on-site system vendors, services from 3rd party logistics providers, and a shallow pool of companies looking to leverage the software-as-as-service model and approach to locating system intelligence.

Word from Above

But what lead to cold sweats for shippers was all the best practice and success stories that the tech trades and even the business media were running. They featured pioneering companies that had implemented a solution to cure their shipping ills and were said to be on the leading edge of technology use for business gain.

That started the deluge of direct questions from C-level executives.

Are we checking out TMSs? Is this something for us? Can we save money? Why haven’t we done this? C-level execs started believing that their companies could quickly turn their freight shipping into a profit center from a cost center.

It didn’t matter that the price for a TMS was too high or that many of the options covered one aspect of shipping but not many others.

TMS Affordability?

You’d think for sure that a growing group of TMS options would benefit all shippers desperately seeking freight intelligence. The reality was that TMSs were still not accessible to most businesses in the U.S. The have-nots could find affordable freight handling options, but that meant paying a third party to handle their freight shipping function.

For most, price as in the TCO, was the single largest impediment to implementing a system that would enable logistics professionals to truly manage their freight transportation. Isn’t it ironic that the sticker price of TMS options and alternative is what was keeping the have-nots from cutting costs and generating new revenue?

Clear Forecast

With the maturity of the cloud, it became clear that locating a TMS software product on a platform in the network  and sold as-a-(monthly)-service would break down the many barriers to implementation that so many businesses of all sizes were up against.

This opportunity sure got the attention of shippers who had all but given up on an on-site TMS and wanted something that was both flexible in architecture and easier to cost justify to their bosses.

An Easier Sell

Many enterprise freight shippers moved from controlled freight chaos to the cloud and found that advances in platform technology and automation from TMS software made for easier installation and a faster return on investment.

But while a growing mass of businesses were putting cloud-based TMSs to the test – and turning a cost center to a profit center, SMBs, which I believe make up over 90% of all U.S. businesses, still couldn’t justify a TMS spend. Some outsourced their operations to 3PLs. Others were stuck with their inefficient status quo.

Believe me, whether you’re a kid or a shipping professional nothing’s worse than watching someone else get, enjoy (and profit from), something great that you can’t have.

In the final installment of this three-part series, I’ll explain how important changes in the evolution of the TMS will define the future of freight shipping. Thanks for staying tuned!

 

 

 

 

Irma, Harvey, a TMS and You

With Hurricane Irma ready to deliver the back half of a devastating one-two punch to the south in the days ahead, you’re freight intelligence will once again put your TMS to the test. For those whose operations weren’t effected by Hurricane Harvey, let’s review what we learned or re-learned.

State of Emergency. Whether it’s MASH episodes, war movies or your favorite emergency rescue show, priority one is to stop the bleeding. That means deleting zip codes that either the feds or the state’s emergency management agency have closed to deliveries (and pickups).

Supply Chain Revamp. After you learn what supplies are needed in the area affected by the act-of-God event, you need to do a bit of reengineering with your supply chain to locate the sorely needed freight and plan with your carriers how to get it on its way to help power the recovery effort.

Reworking your freight shipping to accommodate the impact of natural disasters is no walk in the park, but it’s a shorter one when you consider a robust TMS and its one-source for talking to all your carriers and viewing changes in real-time and acting accordingly.

No Manual? That’s opposed to the plight of shippers who still rely on manual processes that include visiting numerous websites for critical information over and over, sending emails, power dialing and faxing that waste time when you’re trying the hardest to be quick and flexible.

Real-time communications. As the recovery evolves, freight shippers can really use truck and freight tracking functionality to flexible manage their assets – that’s a fancy way of saying know where your trucks are and be aware of their every move.

Go Mobile. This is where mobile technology shines. In dark times, you can reach drivers and they can reach you using nothing more than a smartphone and a simply app download. Yeah, there’s an app for that and it can be part of your TMS.

Multi-modal. Cover all delivery options. We saw – and still see – with Hurricane, Harvey in Houston that in worst case scenarios even delivery beyond trucks wasn’t initially an option. You probably saw the ad-hoc navy of folks with boats hitting the water to deliver emergency aid to the hardest hit areas.

With this in mind, it’s best to have shipping options which means the ability to cover all modes of freight delivery – ground, air and ship – in a single system.  Many complex problems can be solved simply by using multi-modal freight shipping.

Post Event Assessment. Once things return to fairly normal, the freight shipper still faces a big challenge: figuring out the price tag for surviving the latest act of God. A well-equipped TMS can help you figure out the costs associated with reacting to a disaster.

Justify spends. While a strong TMS can help you better deal with acts of God and man-made disasters, you’ll find that adding muscle often means going beyond a base system to include integrations, special apps and even managed services. Though this requires new spending for those who aren’t bulked up to tackle tragedies, look at the costs you incurred in dealing with the very latest act of God.

Cost avoidance itself can help you justify additions and improvements to your TMS.

The Road Ahead for TMS

We’ve all heard the saying “proper preparation prevents poor performance.”  That’s all well and good but freight shippers and carriers with years in the business know planning for the unplanned is far easier said than done.

But a robust TMS will be able to lighten the load.

 

Try our LTL Freight Rate Calculator. Interested in learning more about Kuebix TMS today?

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A Clear Industry View

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Dan Clark, Founder & President, Kuebix

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

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

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

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

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

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