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What to Keep in Mind When Managing a Chemical Supply Chain

The chemical industry faces a unique set of challenges regarding safety in their logistics operations. The transportation of chemicals requires next-level care and expertise as it deals with sensitive and potentially dangerous materials. Errors in shipping chemicals that are hazardous can have serious consequences.

While logistics operations are typically intricate by default, shippers and manufacturers responsible for the production and transportation of chemicals have to pay even closer attention. Here are some of the things to consider when preparing your logistics team to transport chemicals:

Appropriate Number of Drivers 

Companies shipping chemicals need to be aware of the number of truck drivers they have and the strain they’re put under based on the number of hours spent on the road. The risk of an accident is heightened when hazardous materials are involved. Truck drivers must be well-rested and prepared to transport goods or products that carry the weight of these additional risks.

Accurate Product Labeling and Storage

Such sensitive materials must be accurately labeled to ensure they’re going to the right place and are properly stored. Many chemicals call for temperature-controlled trucks or especially cautious handling. Improper labeling or storage can result in delivery to the wrong destination or a potentially harmful reaction. 

Product labeling and storage relies heavily on effective inventory management. Knowing how much of a product you have and where it’s located is crucial in being able to successfully load and ship orders. Ineffective inventory management can lead to higher levels of waste and excess storage costs. Companies that are shipping chemicals need to be especially careful because of expiration dates on their products that can be dangerous if forgotten or neglected.

Strategic Route Planning

Chemicals need to be transported both quickly and safely. Detailed route planning is a significant factor in helping truck drivers make their deliveries on time. It can also help truck drivers navigate roadblocks or construction sites that they wouldn’t otherwise be aware of. Route optimization requires logistics professionals to be aware of the number of required stops, requested delivery time and traffic patterns in the area.

How to Manage Complex Chemical Supply Chain Needs

Upon first glance, managing the demands associated with a successful chemical supply chain may seem overwhelming. However, implementing a transportation management system like Kuebix TMS can simplify the process regardless of your supply chain’s size. 

Kuebix TMS is a cloud-based platform that enables customers, suppliers and carriers to collaborate and have complete visibility and control of their shipping operations. Kuebix TMS offers features necessary to combat the unique challenges in the industry including product compatibility when building loads involving hazardous materials, route optimization and detailed analytics that empower shippers to make better informed decisions.

Kuebix Community Load Match

Kuebix & Trimble Announce Joint Launch of New ‘Community Load Match’

Kuebix and Trimble announced today new capabilities for its Community Load Match platform, a solution that facilitates collaboration between shippers and carriers to optimize how freight moves throughout the supply chain. Kuebix is a Trimble Company and part of the Transportation Sector.

This latest version of Community Load Match marks the first milestone in achieving Trimble and Kuebix’s mission of a connected transportation supply chain since Kuebix was acquired in January 2020. Now, Community Load Match enables shippers to use advanced matching capabilities to more easily find available carriers for their truckload shipments and leverage improved map visualization through Trimble MAPS. For carriers, these capabilities give them direct access to Kuebix’s community of more than 20,000 shippers for matching shipment requirements with available truckload capacity.

“Just four months post-acquisition, a joint Trimble-Kuebix team is releasing the next-generation capabilities of Community Load Match, powered by our community of shippers and a rapidly growing network of Trimble carriers,” said Dan Clark, Kuebix founder and Trimble vice president of Product Innovation & Strategy. “This is an exciting first step as we pursue our vision of a truly connected supply chain.”

Kuebix integrates with Trimble’s Innovative, TMW.Suite and TruckMate carrier transportation management systems (TMS), allowing shipment data to seamlessly flow between systems for maximum efficiency. Connecting Kuebix shippers with Trimble’s carrier network through a single integrated platform brings together two of the largest shipper-carrier ecosystems in North America.

“Trimble’s acquisition of Kuebix is part of our strategy to enable a collaborative, fully-connected supply chain,” said James Langley, senior vice president, Trimble Transportation. “The evolution of the Community Load Match platform represents a tangible step toward achieving this mission, making it easier for shippers and carriers to work together to identify capacity and more efficiently move freight.”

Community Load Match connects shippers with a rapidly growing carrier community from Trimble’s network of 1.3 million commercial trucks, digital freight matching services and brokers to meet truckload needs on one platform. Shippers can easily request and receive rates from the carrier community, including their contracted carriers. Kuebix’s shipping community is composed almost entirely of direct shippers and manufacturers, resulting in a high-quality source of freight for carriers. Community Load Match provides the ability to designate preferred lanes, ensuring that carriers are only connected with shipping customers with requirements in lanes they are looking to fill. Kuebix also offers shippers complimentary rate assessments leveraging community carriers to optimize logistics operations and source new capacity.

 

Shippers can begin leveraging Community Load Match with 60 free days of Kuebix Business Pro TMS. Carriers can begin filling their open capacity and finding new customers by becoming a Kuebix Community Carrier.

For more information, contact the Kuebix Load Match Group by emailing LoadMatch@kuebix.com

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

Woven City Toyota Kuebix TMS

Construction of Toyota’s ‘Smart City’ is Set to Begin in 2021

Artificial intelligence, robots and self-driving cars are establishing themselves within the transportation industry thanks to improved operational efficiencies and long-term benefits. These technologies are being adopted more commonly as their success stories continue to grow in number. Toyota, a Japanese automobile manufacturer recognized for their reliable and durable cars, has another plan to accelerate the development of this forward-thinking technology.

Toyota recently unveiled its plans for Woven City, a futuristic location dedicated to the testing and development of autonomous vehicles, smart technology and robot-assisted living. Woven City will be located in the foothills of Mount Fuji and about 60 miles away from Tokyo. The site is 175 acres and was previously home to a Toyota factory.

Woven City 2

Woven City will serve as a testing ground and give researchers and scientists the ability to test futuristic technology in a “real-life environment.” Toyota also revealed that the city will be powered exclusively by hydrogen fuel cells and rooftop solar panels.

This greener, technology-centered city provides an unparalleled opportunity for the growth and development of artificial intelligence products, robots, self-driving cars and other emerging technologies. Woven City’s dedication to testing real-life applications of these technologies will make it easier to identify and resolve problems. Their success stories and examples of everyday uses for the 2,000 individuals set to live there will serve as inspiration to those outside of the city.

Futuristic Technology in the Transportation Industry

The continued development of artificial intelligence, robotics and self-driving cars will unlock new levels of accuracy and efficiency for the transportation industry. Companies are using artificial intelligence and robotics to help with inventory, warehouse management and refining the skill sets of new truck drivers. Self-driving cars are a huge help in filling available truck driver positions.

While all of these different technologies have already started to prove their worth, it will be interesting to see how they continue to grow and collaborate with the transportation and supply chain industries!

Kuebix TMS Valentine's Day Flowers

The Supply Chain of Your Valentine’s Day Flowers

The History of Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day existed in a variety of forms before settling into its fixed date of February 14th. It can be traced all the way back to a mid-February holiday on the ancient Roman calendar, existing as a day to celebrate the possibility of new life even before Saint Valentine was around. 

Saint Valentine’s reputation became permanently linked to love because of his work as a Roman priest. Soldiers were forbidden to marry because a Roman Emperor believed married soldiers did not make good warriors. Saint Valentine married these soldiers anyways and wore a ring with a Cupid on it – a now infamous symbol of love – to help soldiers identify him. This legend is largely responsible for Saint Valentine becoming known as the patron saint of love.

Medieval author Geoffrey Chaucer solidified Valentine’s Day as a holiday for romantic love in 1381 with a poem he wrote, and the “modern” commemoration of a romantic partnership with one other person on February 14th began. 

Valentine’s Day Flowers By the Numbers

Celebratory staples for Valentine’s Day include chocolate, stuffed animals and bouquets of flowers. The Society of American Florists estimated that 35% of Americans will purchase flowers this year, equating to about $2 billion in sales. Most shoppers don’t stop to think where the abundance of beautiful flowers come from, but it takes a lot more than love in the air to get stores stocked in time

The U.S. produces fewer than 30 million roses, barely making a dent in the 200 million roses that are expected to be purchased for Valentine’s Day. Most of these flowers are imported from Columbia before being sold and sent to recipients in the United States. In total, UPS expects to ship 89 million flowers this year, weighing in at roughly 9 million pounds! 

The Complicated Logistics of Shipping Flowers

Having a perfect Valentine’s Day is difficult for anyone – supply chains included. Flowers are highly perishable and depend on a multinational cold supply chain to ensure quality and delivery within as little as two days. Trucks responsible for the transportation of flowers have to be temperature controlled and stick to a tight schedule to ensure customer satisfaction. 

UPS is no stranger to the pressure of Valentine’s Day. They recently announced the addition of 50 flights to handle over 517,000 flower-filled boxes traveling through Miami International Airport. Temperature-controlled aircrafts and trucks are responsible for importing flowers from fields all over the globe to the United States. UPS rushes to meet the shipments at their Miami facilities and get them into a refrigerated warehouse cooler. From there, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents inspect and sort boxes for clearance before they’re ultimately received by their distributors to be delivered. 

Whether you’re giving or receiving a fresh bouquet of flowers this Valentine’s Day, be sure to thank the complex supply chain that made its safe delivery possible! 

 

Kuebix TMS Cyber Monday Black Friday Statistics

Did Black Friday/Cyber Monday Tax Your Logistics Operation?

 

This year’s Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday retail sales broke records. According to Shopify, over 25.5 million consumers made a purchase from a Shopify merchant on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or in between. Shoppers spent an average of $83.05 per order and focused heavily on makeup, mobile phone accessories and jackets. Cell phones dominated the holiday shopping season with 69% of sales made on phones or tablets.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales reached over $2.9 billion, a huge success in comparison to last year’s $1.8 billion. It’s estimated that at the peak of the shopping frenzy, shoppers were spending over $1.5 million per minute!

The Aftermath

Now that orders have been placed, they must be delivered. As a shipper, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • • Can your logistics operation keep up with the velocity of orders speeding through your e-commerce engine?
  • • Will you have to pay expedited freight charges to make sure customers get their orders on-time?
  • • Can you quickly find capacity with your contracted carriers to stay ahead of demand?
  • • Can you easily contract with carriers for any mode to book a load?
  • • Can you effortlessly compare your contracted rates to the spot market to find a better rate?
  • • Once the holiday rush is all over, can you look historically at shipment data to find areas for improvement?

With Kuebix’s transportation management system (TMS), shippers can do all of the above – and more!

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

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 TMS

How to Buy a Transportation Management System (TMS)

In today’s market, shipping is one of the biggest expenses for any shipper, growing at a rate of over 5% per year, depending on the lane. There are many variables that go into freight costs, including mode, service level and carrier. Manually trying to lower freight spend can be challenging, not to mention extremely time-consuming. Leveraging technology gives logistics teams the boost they need to become more efficient. By implementing a transportation management system (TMS), companies can keep freight costs as low as possible while still meeting and exceeding their customers’ expectations.

How to Choose the Right TMS

A broad range of TMSs exist in the marketplace. These range from the old-fashioned on-premise systems favored over the last two decades to more recent platforms that live on the cloud and connect users for heightened levels of collaboration.

Some TMSs incorporate features like automatic invoice audit while others can streamline route optimization and yard management. Many incorporate advanced analytics that can help teams make better strategic decisions about their freight. Others provide seamless integrations to external systems like e-commerce platforms and ERP systems.

With all these features and options, how does a company go about buying a TMS system?

It’s important to determine what your company’s needs are before starting the process to find the right TMS.

Understand your company’s goals for deploying a TMS – is the goal to cut shipping costs, improve customer service, become a preferred shipper, consolidate loads, etc.?

Without a thorough understanding of your company’s goals, you could find yourself locked into a piece of technology that won’t scale as your company grows, or locked into paying for features you won’t use. No company is exactly the same, so make sure to choose a TMS that can be configured and scaled to your company’s needs over time.

Catalog Image 10 Essential Questions Kuebix TMS

Think about how your company could benefit from increased collaboration with other players in the industry. When comparing different transportation management system options, find out if the TMS can connect you with an ecosystem of potential collaboration partners. Programs like built-in truckload spot networks can provide you more capacity at better rates.

A TMS should offer the following:

  • ·       Automatic rating, booking and tracking of shipments, managing carriers and communicating with shippers and customers in real-time
  • ·       A network of carriers incorporating all modes with the ability to consolidate and optimize shipments
  • ·       A wide variety of reports and dashboards to monitor cost, shipping status and service levels
  • ·       Management of the carrier bid process from initial set up to tendering of shipments
  • ·       Extensive analytics to manage performance in real-time
  • ·       A quick implementation time and return-on-investment (ROI)
  • ·       Integration with enterprise resource planning platforms (ERPs) and 3rd party applications
  • ·       The ability to track and trace any shipment in real-time, anywhere in the supply chain
  • ·       The ability to easily add functionality as needed such as order and route optimization, dock scheduling, yard management and container tracking
  • ·      Access to a connected community of shippers, carriers, freight marketplaces, brokers, and suppliers

Some TMS providers like Kuebix offer a free version of their technology to help shippers get started and see real results from their operations risk-free. Unlike a demo, Kuebix Free Shipper gets shippers managing their freight and gaining true ROI even before adding modular features and capabilities.

If you’re looking to improve your company’s logistics operations by adding a true, cloud-based TMS, check out The Complete Buyer’s Guide to Transportation Management Systems to get answers to questions like “What should I look for?” and “How much should a TMS cost?” before committing.

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.

Kuebix TMS Transportation Tariff Changes

Tariffs and Trucking: Where Do We Stand?

Both the United States and China are implementing new tariffs involving steep tax increases that are complicating the traditionally codependent economic relationship. All cargo ships coming in from China currently pay a 25% tariff upon entering the U.S., resulting in price increases that make consumers hesitant to buy. Similarly, cargo ships from the U.S. entering China pay anywhere from 5% to 20%. As a result, the number of shipments being transported via the ocean is decreasing, diminishing the amount of freight the U.S. is receiving and the demand for trucks to continue to move product along the supply chain.

A new wave of tariffs is going into effect on September 1, 2019, putting a 10% tariff on nearly every Chinese import not already subject to import duties. The list of imports includes some $300 billion worth of Chinese goods and is being implemented with the goal of balancing trade between the United States and China.

Effects on the Trucking Industry

Shipments from China are typically received on the West Coast and primarily fuel the need for trucks in cities including Los Angeles, Oakland, Long Beach and Seattle. However, shipments from China are being sold at a much slower pace as a result of recent price rises. In response, the U.S. is acquiring less cargo from China to accommodate the shift in demand. The trucking companies relying on their business around these port cities are feeling this change the hardest, as fewer imports mean fewer truckers needed.

Potential for Growth 

While the West Coast is facing a decrease in business opportunities for truckers, the East Coast is experiencing the opposite. Ports in New York, New Jersey and the Carolinas are experiencing an increase in imports from Europe and Asia. This increase in business along the East Coast presents a potential opportunity for trucking companies to do more business, just in a different area than what they initially planned for. Even though trade between the U.S. and China has slowed down, it is unlikely to ever come to a complete halt and is likely to still be a source of income for many in the trucking industry for years to come. 

Adjusting to Change

As the number of imports and exports rapidly change in response to the implementation of new tariffs, it is extremely important for companies to manage their transportation processes. Integrating technology like Kuebix TMS in place of traditionally manual processes can help establish visibility through the entire supply chain and offer better control over such rapidly evolving operations.

Grocery Food Supply Chain Kuebix TMS

Rising Consumer Expectations are Prompting Change in Food Supply Chains

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

The “Food Anywhere” Trend

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

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

Healthier Alternatives

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

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

Meeting Consumer Expectations With Technology

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

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

Green Supply Chain Fuel Types Kuebix TMS

5 Alternative Fuels that Will Reenergize the Transportation Industry

The transportation industry relies heavily on diesel to help it successfully transport products from manufacturers to consumers via trucks worldwide. Technology has been instrumental in reducing the number of empty miles driven, and finding an alternative fuel source is the next step for eco-conscious companies.  As concerns about the longevity of fossil fuels grow, the search for a more sustainable fuel is intensifying.

There are more than 222 million licensed drivers in the U.S. today and the amount of fuel needed to power their vehicles is astronomical. The transportation of people and goods accounts for about 25% of all energy consumption worldwide. Gasoline is a byproduct of fossil fuels, of which the earth has a limited supply. The discovery of an alternative to gasoline is vital to preserving our modern way of life and avoid running out of fuel altogether.

Fortunately, scientists and engineers are already tackling this problem. The switch toward alternative forms of fuel is still in its infancy, but researchers are working tirelessly to create cleaner, more sustainable energy sources. Below are just five potential forms of less harmful and more sustainable fuel that have the potential to replace gasoline and introduce a new wave of cleaner, more efficient vehicles:

Electric

There are currently three types of electric cars: battery electric vehicles (BEV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEV). According to The Guardian, there are already over 3 million electric and plug-in hybrid cars on the road today. Electric cars are known to be environmentally and economically friendly as they drastically reduce harmful emissions and save users all of the money they would have spent on fuel.

However, electric vehicles are restricted to a specific number of miles they can drive before they need a recharge (the average is about 100 miles). Outside of major cities charging stations are difficult to come by, making electric vehicles less than ideal for lengthier trips. In order for electric trucks to become a viable option for the supply chain, a solution to the limited range needs to be found. Once electric vehicles are able to carry heavy loads for longer stretches of road, the logistics industry will have a new, viable option for shipping.

Ethanol

Ethanol fuel consists of the same alcohol that is in most cocktails. It originates from plant matter including algae, trees and corn. Ethanol fuel is renewable and much better for the environment than gasoline as it produces less carbon dioxide, hydrocarbon and oxides of nitrogen emissions.

The production of ethanol can support farmers and create agricultural job opportunities. Ethanol production can also be domestic, which helps reduce dependence on foreign oil. Gasoline is often blended with a high percentage of ethanol to create a cleaner-burning fuel because of its higher octane levels.

A transition to fuel made only of ethanol would be simpler than other options because newer trucks are consistently manufactured with the ability to burn ethanol-mixed gas and wouldn’t have a problem burning pure ethanol. Since many gas stations are already selling a blend of gas with ethanol in it, potential infrastructure problems are not as likely if the industry ever makes the switch.

The point of concern with transitioning shipping entirely to ethanol fuel is the effect it would have on crop prices. Utilizing crops as fuel rather than as food would drastically increase the price of corn and other produce. In order to have ethanol completely replace gasoline, a significant amount of the world’s forests and free spaces would have to be dedicated to farmland.

Biodiesel

Biodiesel is a renewable fuel made from vegetable oils and animal fats and can be used before cooking or recycled even after use in cooking. It is non-toxic, biodegradable and emits less harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. Biodiesel can work in any diesel engine, making for an easy integration into the transportation industry.

Although there are many positives to biodiesel fuel, it still presents its fair share of challenges. For one, it is much less powerful than regular diesel and gasoline fuels. Biodiesel is reportedly 10% weaker than traditionally used fuel types. The storage of biodiesel fuel can also cause some major problems over time. When it’s stationary for an extended period of time, biodiesel tends to thicken which can clog filters and create corrosion.

Hydrogen

Hydrogen is a popular and highly innovative alternative to gasoline. Fuel cell vehicles are technically considered electric vehicles, but they rely on a mixture of oxygen and hydrogen to produce electricity rather than a traditional battery. These cars are similar to gasoline and diesel vehicles as they are refueled in the same conventional manner and share the same long-distance driving range, allowing them to drive further and faster than battery-powered electric vehicles.

A vehicle with a fuel cell and electric motor running on hydrogen can be two to three times more efficient than gasoline. These vehicles discharge zero harmful emissions, only water. Hydrogen fuel can be produced domestically from nuclear power, natural gas, biomass and renewable powers like wind and solar energy.

The biggest problem associated with hydrogen fuel is cost. The fuel cells required to power hydrogen-fueled cars are very expensive, and there are very few gas stations that currently offer hydrogen as fuel. Should the transportation industry ever decide to make the switch to hydrogen-powered trucks, the eventual ROI could make it worth it.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is a fossil fuel mostly comprised of methane. This alternative to traditional fuels can be produced domestically and is less expensive than gasoline. Natural gas could cut back on greenhouse gas emissions by 10% as well.

The reason natural gas hasn’t supplanted gasoline as the preferred fuel type is because of the limited number of vehicles on the market with the capability to utilize it. Making trucks natural gas-friendly would be a very costly investment for the trucking industry. There are very few fueling stations that provide natural gas and it provides fewer miles-per-tank than vehicles running on gasoline or diesel.

92% of the U.S. transportation sector uses petroleum products such as gasoline or diesel for fuel. These resources won’t last forever and soon we will have to find a new way to fuel our cars, trucks, boats and airplanes. Our economies are powered by supply chains, and whatever fuel becomes the fuel of choice in the future will have to work for the supply chain industry, not only for personal drivers. While some alternative fuels are already being implemented, research is still being done to develop a fuel that is truly sustainable, efficient, and environmentally friendly.

hurricane supply chain kuebix

Preparing Your Supply Chains for Hurricane Season

If you live or work anywhere along the eastern seaboard of the United States, you know the panicked feeling when you hear on the news that a major hurricane is approaching. Even if you believe that the hurricane won’t hit your town, hurricanes are unpredictable by nature. Grocery stores run low on stock as people rush in to purchase as much water, food and emergency products to prepare for the damage as they can. So what happens to companies with freight to ship and customers to supply? Businesses in hurricane-prone areas and those that ship to those areas are at risk of lost revenue and major damage if they don’t take the proper precautions ahead of a storm.

How are Businesses Affected?

In the logistics industry, it is safe to say that every aspect of the business, especially transportation and shipping, is highly affected by a hurricane. Category 3, 4 and 5 hurricanes are catastrophic and can wipe out houses, buildings, and infrastructure like highways and local roads which are needed for shipping. Ports are especially affected since they are right on the coast where the majority of a hurricane’s power will break. Major flooding, debris and downed wires make it next to impossible for businesses to be able to move shipments in and out of certain areas that were affected.

When Category 4 Hurricane Florence hit the east coast on September 18, 2018, many roads and rail connections were affected which remained shut down even after the impact. This eventually resulted in a halt of shipments and deliveries being made on time, or at all. Grocery store shelves remained unstocked, bottled water was hard to come by and other necessary emergency products were only slowly supplied to those most in need of them.

Businesses in areas that are at risk of hurricanes must prepare in advance for the possibility of a natural disaster. This is the best way to fully recover from the impact and supply their customers during and immediately following the storm.

What Can Businesses Do to Prepare Their Supply Chains for a Hurricane?

With any business in the path of a hurricane, preparedness is key. Companies in the past have lost market share due to their lack of preparation and failure to completely recover after a natural disaster. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, about 40% of companies are not able to return back to normal operations following the impact of a disaster.

However, there are a number of ways that businesses can prepare for impact. A few ideas to protect your supply chain include:

  • • Identifying if you are in an area at-risk of dangerous weather impacts. While this may seem easy and obvious, many businesses surprisingly fail to keep that in mind when deciding on the best location to operate their business. Simply knowing that your business can be in danger of hurricanes is an easy gateway to finding the right tools to prepare and recover.
  • • Gaining complete visibility to your supply chain operations. If you have total visibility over your supply chain operations, your company will be best-positioned to react to a hurricane or other natural disaster. Knowing where your shipments are, being able to quickly rate and book with the best carriers and being able to track orders in real-time will give you an edge when a wrong decision can result in them never arriving. Companies can gain this level of visibility by implementing transportation management technology ahead of time.
  • • Have an insurance plan. Not only can insurance provide protection against loss, it can save a lot of money that would have to be paid to restore damages. Flood insurance may be a great option, or even a requirement, for businesses located in high-risk areas.
  • • Have reliable back-up partners. Having back-up partners can be very helpful because companies are able to move product via drop trailer to locations that are outside of harm’s way when a hurricane is approaching. There is a possibility that availability can be limited, so it’s crucial to have these conversations with your partners far in advance. Truckload spot markets like Kuebix Community Load Match give shippers an easy path to find and book reliable spot volume quickly.
  • • Learning from the past can prevent problems in the future. Data and analytics can help businesses keep track of their supply chain operations (how well or poorly they performed) during a storm. Being able to see what shipped, when, how long it took and for what cost helps businesses strategically plan for the next time a hurricane hits.

 What Happens in the Aftermath of a Storm?

In the case of extreme devastation, helping families and people in need is a top priority. While supply chain managers need to make sure their employees are all safe and well, they also need to work for a speedy recovery of their business. According to the Olin Business School, redundancy and operational flexibility are important processes of dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster.

Since these disasters are frequently unpredictable, it is better to be safe than sorry and have a back-up plan to conquer the difficulties that the disaster can cause. With hurricane season upon us, remember to stay informed of weather events, leverage technology to retain visibility to your supply chain and have back-up plans in place ahead of time. With these tools, your company will be able to weather the storm!

Prime Air Drones Kuebix

Amazon is Taking Prime to New Heights With Amazon Prime Air

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

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

How Does Amazon Prime Air Work?

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

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

How Will Prime Air Affect the Transportation Industry?

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

So What Happens Next?

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

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