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How Truck Drivers Can Stay Ahead of Winter Weather

January is upon us which means unpredictable winter weather. Truck drivers are preparing for freezing temperatures, snow and ice in the air and on the ground as well as  corrosive road treatments. Below are a few ways that truck drivers can withstand a season filled with harsh conditions and sometimes unexpected roadblocks:

Check Air Systems and Maintain Tire Pressure

A truck’s air system plays an integral part in braking, automated manual transmissions and emissions controls. As temperatures begin to drop, any moisture trapped in the air system freezes which often leads to brake and valve malfunctions. Tires deflate as temperatures drop for the same reason. It’s important to regularly check and empty the air system and monitor tire pressure to ensure they don’t fall victim to the cold weather.

Keep Fuel Tanks Full

Regardless of vehicle size, it’s common knowledge that fuel tanks should be kept more than halfway full throughout winter. This is especially important for truck drivers because any moisture trapped in partially empty fuel tanks can freeze and ice fuel lines. Keeping fuel tanks over halfway full throughout the winter is critical in avoiding situations where trucks refuse to start. The added pressure of a full fuel tank can give them much needed traction when there is a surplus of snow on the ground. 

Plan A Route Ahead of Time

If any amount of snow is going to be on the ground, it’s important for truck drivers to have their routes planned out ahead of time. Logistics professionals can leverage advanced mapping technology to simplify the process. Taking a look at all the different ways to reach the destination makes it easier to avoid any narrow or windy roads that a driver wouldn’t feel comfortable navigating in winter weather. Additionally, drivers that know the route they’re taking ahead of time can identify rest stops in case road conditions become unbearable.

Leverage Supply Chain Visibility

Communicating information regarding a shipment’s current location and estimated arrival time is especially difficult during the winter. Truck drivers often face barriers along their routes like roadblocks, accidents and weather that forces them to pull over and take a break. Logistics professionals can leverage visibility in technology to provide stakeholders with real-time tracking information and updates regarding the location of their drivers. 

Keep Snow off the Roof

While snow-covered roads are more commonly recognized as a danger when driving in the winter, piles of snow and ice on the roofs of trucks and truck beds pose an equally significant risk. Any snow or ice left on top of a vehicle could end up falling off and causing an accident for someone else. Some companies have even started working on technology to clean the snow off of truck beds and save drivers the hassle.

What an Early Holiday Shopping Season Means for Supply Chains

Whether or not consumers, suppliers and retailers are ready, holiday shopping season is right around the corner! Experts predict that due to evolving shopping habits, Covid-19, a delayed Amazon Prime Day and general supply chain disruptions, consumers will start shopping for the holidays earlier than usual this year. This newly extended holiday shopping season creates many opportunities for retailers as long as they’re prepared.

One of the driving forces behind the early start to holiday shopping season is Amazon Prime Day. Supply chain disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic led Amazon to delay the event (traditionally held in July) until October of this year. Amazon Prime day acts as a catalyst for Amazon’s competitors like Target, Walmart and Best Buy to create their own limited-time offerings. Instead of pausing promotions when Amazon Prime Day ended on October 14th and restarting closer to Thanksgiving, many retailers are taking a more continuous approach. Target has promised its customers “Black Friday pricing all November” while popular hardware store Home Depot has vowed to make their offerings available until the end of December.

Companies that don’t run promotions around the time of Amazon Prime Day run the risk of a decline in business. Starting promotions after the unofficial holiday makes it harder for retailers to ensure they have enough inventory to keep their shelves stocked when they’re running low. Retailers that started early or plan to start earlier in November than Black Friday will be able to identify and keep up with new consumer shopping trends. 

Popular Holiday Purchases

With so many different companies offering discounts well into the holiday season, all that’s left for consumers to do is shop. However, the pandemic is expected to have a direct impact on this year’s popular purchases. Instead of luxury items being the focal point of the holidays, consumers are gravitating towards practical purchases. Products like winter coats, snow shoes and fire pits are at the top of many lists because they enable friends and family to gather outside during colder months as social distancing efforts are still in place.

Electronics have always been a popular item on wish lists and this year they hold even more importance. With so many people still working on furnishing their home office or remote learning space, laptops, keyboards, monitors and desk decór are all in high demand this holiday season. Internationally sourced electronics will have an especially difficult time keeping up because of widespread shipping delays brought on by the pandemic.

Making the Most of the Early Holiday Season

Taking full advantage of the early start to the holiday season requires more than launching a new discount. Companies that want to stay ahead need complete visibility throughout their supply chains. Supply chain visibility makes it possible for logistics professionals to view each aspect of their supply chain in detail as moves are being planned, alerts are sent and real-time adjustments are made along the route.

Achieving true supply chain visibility starts with implementing a transportation management system (TMS). Companies that leverage a TMS are able to seamlessly rate, book and track their freight. Visibility makes it possible for users to quickly view the status of shipments and pass-along tracking information to customers and partners. With the power of a cloud-based TMS and supply chain visibility, logistics professionals can improve operational efficiencies, provide better customer service and leverage detailed analytics to make better informed decisions.

Trimble Visibility Blog Post 2

Complete Supply Chain Visibility with Trimble Visibility in Kuebix TMS

Supply chain visibility is the ability to view each aspect of the supply chain in detail as moves are being planned, alerts are sent and real-time adjustments are made. Shippers with complete visibility across their supply chains are able to improve operational efficiencies, provide better customer service and leverage detailed analytics to make better informed decisions. 

True supply chain visibility relies on a cloud-based transportation management system (TMS). Companies that utilize a TMS automatically have a dynamic record of their logistics operations they can use to identify improvements that need to be made. For Kuebix TMS users, achieving and utilizing visibility is even easier thanks to their recent integration with Trimble Visibility.

Overview: Trimble Visibility in Kuebix TMS 

Trimble Visibility inside of Kuebix TMS is helping shippers gain true visibility to their supply chains. With Visibility, any shipper can track and trace orders in real-time by modularly adding Trimble Visibility as a Premier Application. This means there’s no need for external or disjointed systems, improving usability and accelerating customer service. 

This Premier Application offers companies real-time insights and aggregated supply chain data for the answers they need on their FTL, LTL, and parcel loads. With Trimble Visibility, shippers can leverage GPS technology in use by their carriers to track shipments and leverage predictive analytics to proactively manage exceptions.

Key Features

  •     •  Real-time status updates
  •     •  Automatic text and email alerts for milestones
  •     •  Predictive analytics to determine loads in jeopardy
  •     •  Geo-fencing and GPS tracking
  •     •  Live mapping

Key Benefits

  •     •  Quickly view the status of shipments
  •     •  Be able to act on loads in jeopardy before they become late
  •     •  Pass-along tracking information to customers and partners
  •     •  See exceptions in minutes, not days
  •     •  Accurately report on OTD, detention, etc.
  •     •  Do it all from one platform!

How Does Trimble Visibility in Kuebix Work?

Trimble Visibility aggregates tracking information from EDI and API connections, mobile apps, ERP or WMS integrations and telematics from carriers. Any way a carrier reports out on statuses can be captured with Trimble Visibility, or even an Excel spreadsheet sent through an FTP channel. From here, Trimble Visibility applies advanced algorithms and predictive analytics to present users with important alerts like loads which are in jeopardy of being late.

Kuebix has integrated Trimble Visibility fully into the TMS so that users can seamlessly access Visibility data on their shipments without needing to leverage separate software. When accessing Trimble Visibility through Kuebix, a user can simply click on the tracking icon on a shipment in Kuebix’s Manage Shipments grids to ‘drill down’ into quick view information like origin, destination, routing, and a shipment progress bar. From here, users can view information including departure times, in-transit statuses, delays, and warnings based on traffic, weather, and other predictive analytics.

Users can dig further into the status of an order by viewing shipments in real-time on a live map for a visual representation of all their loads. This view is fully customizable and filterable based on pre-defined parameters such as location, product brand, customer, SKU, or business unit, etc.

Mobile App for Carriers

Carriers that don’t already have connections via traditional EDI, API or other integrations can incorporate Trimble Visibility’s mobile app, VisibilityDrive, into their operations to provide seamless tracking information to shippers. Drivers simply download the app on their cell phone, select statuses like “In-Transit” and deliveries are tracked via satellite GPS. Drivers can also upload pictures of damages, discrepancies, or signature captures so that customer service departments have the information they need to act quickly when issues arise. Any type of OS&D message can be lumped into the Exception status type. Information is transited automatically back to Kuebix for accurate record-keeping and ease-of-access.

Proactive Shipment Alerts and Status Updates

Instead of combing through shipment statuses looking for trucks which are in jeopardy of missing their delivery windows, users can leverage Trimble Visibility’s dynamic alerting capabilities to get notified via email or text message. Alerts can be automatically sent to vendors, suppliers and customers as well, cutting down on communication time and improving visibility. Alerts are easy to set up and customized using a menu of options within the platform so that important shipment milestones never get missed.

In addition to automatic alerts, users can click the “Share” button on a shipment to send a scrubbed, ‘shared view’ to customers or vendors via text or email.

Location Settings and Polygonal Geofencing

Users can define specific locations by importing or drawing on satellite images or specifying radiuses around a target location. For example, a user could set a .2 mile radius around a customer’s warehouse to know when the driver has arrived for delivery. This provides users with an independent and accurate version of a truck’s location. When a truck passes a predefined marker, an alert will trigger marking the delivery as “Arrived” or “Departed” from the location. Shippers can use this information to get specific detention accessorial and OTD reporting.

Optional Branded Web Address (or URL)

Companies that want their own fully customizable URL can opt for their own instance of Trimble Visibility. This allows the format of the page and tracking links sent to customers to be branded with the company’s colors and positioning. For example, Anheuser-Busch used www.TrackMyBud.com for their customer portal. SSO support is also available to dedicated tenant users looking to access the application without keeping track of separate user credentials.

On Demand Trucking - Kuebix

Status of On-Demand Trucking

The U.S. transportation market is quickly ramping up technology-enhanced options to move products, goods and people in an effort to keep up with demand. Consumers are accustomed to free two-day shipping and detailed tracking information to follow their package every step of the way. Any business looking to fulfill these requirements should anticipate the need to outperform their traditional operations. On-demand trucking is a viable solution to meet all of these needs. Trucking companies can use it to find additional product that needs to be moved in the area to eliminate wasteful empty backhaul and businesses can deliver their products faster. It’s a win for everyone involved!

What’s driving the growth of U.S. on-demand trucking?

It’s no wonder there’s such a big demand for on-demand trucking. The tight U.S. job market, changing import/export levels and new technology have all combined to speed the shift to on-demand trucking:

  • •Capacity crunch. In recent years, lack of trucks and a scarcity of drivers-for-hire have combined with high freight demand to severely restrict U.S. trucking capacity/availability.
  • •Electronic logging devices (ELDs). Federally mandated ELDs closely scrutinize and monitor drivers to be sure they follow hours of service (HOS) laws, which can impact driver productivity.
  • •Rising spot and contract rates. Trucking rates continue to rise while capacity remains tight, driving some shippers to move portions of their freight to intermodal transportation or “rail.”
  • •Trucking apps. New apps are taking center stage: Uber Freight’s app operates much like its ride-sharing service. Both Convoy and Amazon have apps that target on-demand freight, as well, matching trucking companies with shippers who have freight that needs to move. This “at-your-fingertips” flexibility means shippers have flexible options for meeting their trucking needs; carriers can choose higher- and faster-paying freight.
  • •Rising interest rates. Higher rates mean higher costs for transporting goods, so shippers are best served by choosing their best transportation options.

How does on-demand trucking work?

On-demand trucking has a bright future for freight and transportation management and load matching:

  • •Provides a broad network of real-time carriers. This is not the old days of contracting with carriers to lock in capacity months or even years in advance: The capacity just isn’t there. On-demand trucking apps and spot markets let shippers connect with thousands of independent “owner-operator” drivers with empty truck space to sell.
  • •Leverages technology to handle settlements. Real-time freight visibility is important, of course, but it’s just as important to ensure driver certification and timely, accurate freight pick-up and delivery and settlement processing. Having a transportation management system (TMS) connect directly to the asset (driver) through a platform that provides access to drivers and ensures drivers’ certification and compliance–as well as manages the settlement through an Uber-like payment configuration–can be a great way to simplify and streamline your business.
  • •Focuses on getting shippers normal or “specialized” capacity on a transactional basis. Unlike dealing with large, asset-based carriers, the Uberization of freight means shippers can connect with drivers who offer capacity and even specialized freight treatment—like refrigeration–on back-hauls, making it a win-win for shippers and carriers.

On-demand trucking offers shippers a proven and flexible way of conducting their business, with real-time visibility over truck assets and a simpler way to access settlement, liability and other functions via a single interface. Read how recent innovations in web service technology mean shippers can get direct carrier rates, POD and BOL images, online shipment scheduling, and real-time status updates from all carriers on one platform to optimize shipment, financial and customer relationship management and ensure better freight intelligence.

 

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!

 

How a Transportation Management System (TMS) Can Benefit a Business of Any Size

A Transportation Management System (TMS) helps companies streamline their logistics processes so that they are as efficient and connected as possible. Instead of manually managing logistics operations over the phone and email, companies can use technology to save money, reduce processing time, scale operations and improve accuracy. At their core, TMSs help companies rate, book and track shipments. Additional functionality like reports and dashboards, integrations, financial management and spot services can be added to increase the value companies realize from their TMS.

Many organizations incorrectly believe that TMSs are only for large, enterprise organizations. This notion may have been true once when the time and monetary expense limited the implementation of technology to only the largest companies. Now, however, technology has advanced and companies like Kuebix have democratized the booking for freight with plans for every size company.

According to Inbound Logistics magazine, “most Tier 1 shippers – those that spend $100 million+ annually on freight – already use TMS solutions.” These companies say that a TMS contributes to critical business drivers, such as complexity, scale, customer experience and freight cost savings.*

Smaller firms still use manual approaches to manage their freight, relying on in-house expertise using spreadsheets, fax, phone and email, often resulting in excess admin time, errors and duplicated efforts.

However, with globalization and the growth of e-commerce opening up new markets and reaching customers around the world, the time has come for smaller firms to take advantage of TMS solutions that can bring better customer service, lower freight spend, improve performance and more.

To get up and running quickly, small to medium-sized businesses can adopt cloud-based TMS solutions – getting rates, booking and tracking shipments and communicating with carriers and shippers in real-time – all on a single platform. Because of the cloud, these systems offer a much lower total cost of ownership, are simpler to implement and require no internal IT support.

 

Using a TMS, compared to manual approaches, can help your business to:

• Optimize and consolidate shipments

• Improve service levels, giving customers a great first impression

Save on freight costs

• Lower admin costs and reduce errors

• Access a large carrier pool

• Address all shipping options and modes, all on one platform

• Monitor shipments in real-time

• Quickly evaluate carrier performance through historical reports

• Increase visibility into what is happening within your transport operations

• Communicate shipment status to customers

• Get much-needed carrier capacity in a tightened market

 

What if you need more functionality? Choose a TMS that is flexible enough to grow as your business grows, allowing you to add features in a modular fashion as needed. Kuebix TMS lets you begin rating, booking and managing your LTL, TL, parcel, rail, ocean and air freight in minutes. For more complex supply chains, Kuebix can be configured with Premier Applications and Integrations to meet the needs of even the largest enterprise.

Check out our free Kuebix Shipper TMS for unlimited rating, calculating freight cost, booking, and tracking!

*Primary Research in Evaluating the Business Case and Approval Process for Supply Chain Execution Systems Acquisition – Jim Hendrickson, Professor, Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University.

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!

kuebix 10 reasons to get a tms

10 Reasons Every Shipper Should Get a Transportation Management System (TMS)

Transportation management systems (TMS) are becoming more widely adopted throughout the industry as these systems become cheaper (or free like Kuebix Free Shipper) and easier to use and implement. But some companies are still on the fence about whether to manage their logistics operations the old-fashioned way with phone calls and spreadsheets or to leverage technology to help streamline the process.

According to Bart De Muynck, Gartner’s research vice president, transportation technology, “Last year was a great year for TMS. In fact, in 2018 we saw investments go up across the entire supply chain technology spectrum.”¹

Companies are implementing TMSs at record numbers to achieve many different benefits. Here are 10 ways getting a TMS can help your business:

Everything in one place

By using a TMS, companies can manage their entire transportation operations all from a single place. This means they can rate, book, track and interact with their orders no matter whether they’re full truckload, LTL, parcel, air, intermodal or ocean. It also means that they don’t need to bounce between different carrier websites to rate shop.

Lower freight costs

Transportation management systems almost always help to lower overall freight costs for companies. By being able to rate shop within a single screen, logistics professionals can choose the least expensive option at the service type they need every time. It also means that companies have easier access to more carriers, creating beneficial competition and providing more options.

Reduce manual entry

With a TMS, especially one that is integrated with an ERP or ordering system, manual entry is greatly reduced. Information like PRO numbers, pallet weights, and destinations can be automatically populated to reduce human error. And instead of making notes on stickies or disjointed spreadsheets, all the order and route information is in one place, meaning reliable information can be transferred between stakeholders.

Optimize routing and load consolidation

With many TMS systems, you can build more efficient loads and routes with the help of an optimizer. Optimization tools allow the user to specify different parameters for the load and then suggest or even build the optimal load and route for easy tendering. Users can even view the route on a map to have a visual of where the order is planned so that they can make changes as necessary.

Get meaningful analytics

Since all of a company’s logistics information will pass through the TMS, that data can be transformed into actionable reports and dashboards. With a TMS companies can see freight cost per item right down to the SKU level to make strategic changes that impact their bottom line. They can also see things like carrier KPIs, real-time tracking data and vendor scorecards. These reports and dashboards help logistics professionals stay on top of key metrics affecting their company’s profits.

Gain visibility

With real-time tracking and analytics, you can provide your customers with the visibility to their orders that they expect. You can even add features like Dock Scheduler, RFID and ELD integrations, and Gate Check to make it easy to tell exactly where each truck is on the route.

Make paperwork easier

Transportation management systems make the little paperwork that is still necessary way easier. BOLs, PODs and other paperwork can be printed directly out of the system to make processing easy, efficient, and most importantly correct every time. This not only puts time back into the day, but it also speeds up pickup/drop-off times when drivers have accurate information with them.

Scalability

With a TMS, a company is free to grow or change their business without having to worry about how they will handle their transportation operations. When new facilities or more products are added to the business, the TMS will scale right along-side it. TMSs with modular features offer companies extra customizability. For example, if the company begins to sell products online, they can add an e-commerce integration to improve shipping options for their customers.

Meet rising customer expectations

Speaking of e-commerce, the growth in popularity of online shopping is changing customer expectations and making shipping more difficult for supply chains. Companies need to get orders to their destinations faster, cheaper, and with complete visibility. With a TMS, all three of these things are made possible and companies can provide exceptional customer service while meeting rising customer expectations.

Integrate external processes

Another benefit many companies take advantage of once they implement a TMS is to integrate it with their other systems. As mentioned above, some choose to integrate with their e-commerce platforms or their ERP and ordering systems. These and other integrations help to smooth processes across different teams and departments to help keep the flow of information clean and consistent, not to mention speed up the entire operation and improve overall visibility.

All-in-all, there are plenty of reasons a company should consider implementing a TMS to manage its transportation operations. These span from cost to time savings and improve data accuracy and visibility. As put by Logistics Management in their 2019 Transportation Management Systems (TMS) Market Update, “As the true workhorses of the supply chain management software cluster, transportation management systems (TMS) have become the “must have” for companies that—working under the pressures of e-commerce and omni-channel—need to move beyond clipboards, spreadsheets, and phone calls to manage their increasingly sophisticated transportation networks.”

¹Logistics Management Magazine

king consumer kuebix

Want to be like Amazon? Treat Your Customers Like Kings.

While many companies consider Amazon to be the ultimate competitor, Amazon didn’t become the trillion-dollar retail and distribution behemoth it is today by focusing on what its competition was doing. Instead, it focused on exciting and delighting its customers.

Remember, Amazon started out selling books. Bookstores were its main competition. Amazon did not aspire to beat bookstores at their own game. Instead, Amazon created an entirely new game.

In a talk at the Economic Club of Washington back in September, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos told his audience, “The number 1 thing that has made us successful by far is obsessive-compulsive focus on the customer as opposed to obsession over the competitor.”

In fact, customer obsession is the very first of Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles: “Leaders start with the customer and work backward. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.”

It’s this unrelenting drive to address customer needs that’s made Amazon “the everything store.”  From day one, Amazon observed its customers, asked for their input, anticipated their wants and needs, and treated them with complete trust and respect. Amazon has been able to build –and scale – its legendary customer service by paying attention to customer behavior and delivering on promises so well that it changed the meaning and importance of “customer expectations.”

Amazon makes their customers “king.” They’ve proven the validity of this strategy by lapping up 50 percent of US e-commerce sales in 2018, per TechCrunch.

Nowadays, customers demand Amazon-like services, a trend known as “the Amazon effect.” Customers want to know where their orders are when they will arrive, and if there is a delay. Amazon does all that – and your business can too with the help of technology. To be able to meet customer needs, Amazon uses technologies to track and optimize shipments, giving visibility to customers so they know what is happening to their orders all along the supply chain.

To make customers king, businesses need to offer a technology-driven experience that gives visibility into transportation processes from order entry to proof of delivery. Shippers use TMS like Kuebix to find scarce capacity, analyze freight rates and secure transportation. Businesses can compare carrier rates side-by-side and choose the best rate that the shipment demands, ensuring quick and efficient deliveries to their customers. They can also provide their customers with real-time tracking and a level of visibility that can only be gained with technology.

product recalls kuebix

The 10 Biggest Product Recalls of All Time

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

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

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

The 10 biggest product recalls

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

Source: Kiplinger

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

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

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

Importance of Visibility - Kuebix Supply Chain

The Power of Supply Chain Visibility for Complicated Supply Chains

Shipping some types of product, like fragile or hazardous goods, isn’t quite like shipping anything else. There are special considerations to take into account like product compatibility, axle weight distribution and unconventional loading equipment. The driver might need to be specially certified as well, since the product being shipped requires special care. For shippers transporting these types of goods, being able to view the status of their orders through every step of the supply chain is necessary to avoid accidents and understand performance.

What exactly is supply chain visibility?

Supply chain visibility is the ability to view every cog of the supply chain as moves are being planned, alerts are sent, and real-time adjustments are made. This keeps supply chain operations running smoothly and customer satisfaction high. The backbone of visibility is a cloud-based collaboration portal that can be shared by the customer, the supplier and carrier partners. This single platform will be used as a dynamic record of truth for the changes that need to occur across the supply chain to keep the delivery of goods moving efficiently. Visibility and collaboration go hand-in-hand and result in improved efficiencies across the supply chain.

How can visibility help improve my supply chain?

Collaborate with suppliers to plan labor and deliveries more efficiently – Before product can leave the distribution center, it’s important that the supplier can view the full backlog of orders they need to fill. By employing a shared portal based in the cloud, suppliers and customers can collaborate to exchange order information. This provides the supplier the information they need to plan production and commit to promise dates so that the customer can plan their business. When shipping untraditional goods like bulk chemicals or fragile glass products, its especially important to know that the appropriate labor or assets are available for moving product. Without the right equipment, entire truckloads can be delayed or missed, causing repercussions all along the supply chain.

Collaborate with carriers to improve performance and customer service – Once the order has been booked, the carrier participates in the collaboration portal and begins to provide status updates on their delivery. Many carriers provide electronic notifications through various protocols including EDI or web services driven from GPS or ELDs. Electronic tracking provides visibility to the customer and supplier on the true status of their orders. By giving carriers a platform to house shipment information, suppliers and customers alike can always know where their goods are and when to expect them to arrive at the next destination. When discrepancies like damages or late deliveries arise, it becomes easy to track where in the supply chain the process broke down. Tracking orders down to the SKU level helps to weed out underperforming carriers and eliminates the time previously spent calling carriers asking the same question, “where’s my truck?

Getting supply chain visibility for complicated supply chains.

With complete supply chain visibility, shippers and suppliers can ensure their supply chains are running smoothly. For businesses shipping fragile or hazardous goods, it is especially important to be able to view each node of the supply chain to foresee potential risks and trace issues. Implementing a cloud-based platform to act as the “record of truth” encourages efficiencies when planning labor and deliveries while simultaneously improving customer satisfaction. To learn more about how supply chains can achieve visibility, download Kuebix’s ebook, Driving Supplier, Carrier and Customer Collaboration: The Power of Supply Chain Visibility.

Team process visibility

Driving Collaboration Through Visibility

According to Supply Chain Insights, supply chain visibility comes in as one of the top “elements of business pain in supply chain.” Why is visibility within the supply chain such a big challenge?

First, there are many players involved, from suppliers to producers, manufacturers, shippers, carriers and end customers. Next, add more complexities to the mix: globalization, customer expectations, volatile demand and mounting regulations. These factors create a messy and complicated environment for supply chain professionals trying to see what is happening up and down their entire network of stakeholders.

What is needed is end-to-end supply chain visibility.

To facilitate visibility, all stakeholders need to use a common platform that allows them 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.

What is this common platform?

It is a cloud-based collaborative portal, like that offered by Kuebix TMS, that can be accessed by all stakeholders from any device and from any location. This single platform serves as a dynamic record of truth for all the changes that occur across the supply chain, keeping the delivery of goods moving efficiently.

First, a purchase order is made.  Suppliers look at the portal and plan production and inventory schedules to meet customer demand. Suppliers will notify their customers through the collaboration portal which deliveries they can make on time and which need to be back-ordered due to low stock.

When suppliers commit to a promise date, customers can look at the portal to plan their business based on delivery dates. If the customer has chosen to pick up the order using their own carrier, the supplier can print shipping labels for those orders directly from the portal. Because every stakeholder is referencing the same information via a collaborative portal, they have immediate access to everything they need to make informed decisions and plan their supply chain.

Carriers can provide updates on the status of their deliveries through the collaboration portal as well. If carriers are using electronic logging devices (ELDs), customers and suppliers can visibly track the real-time status of their delivery. Dock scheduling solutions like Kuebix’s allow carriers to see open time slots and locations at the dock, empowering carriers to reserve an appropriate time for delivery so they are not left idling in the yard.

Part of the backbone of visibility and collaboration is a set of rules and procedures that suppliers and carriers need to follow. These procedures on yard, safety, consolidations, etc. promote proper supplier and carrier behavior and ensure the most efficient operation. Any violations which occur are shown in the portal, so all parties know the status of issues and can work together to address them. This provides a heightened level of visibility and accountability for all stakeholders.

Kuebix TMS provides supply chain professionals the visibility they need to maximize efficiencies, minimize costs and improve customer service. Working together via a collaboration portal is a win-win-win for suppliers, carriers and shippers.

Other inbound logistics management best practices to improve visibility can be found in The Art of the Inbound.

Kuebix SupplierMAX

The Recipe for an Unbeatable Inbound Freight Management Strategy

Managing inbound freight operations is an ongoing challenge for businesses with large numbers of suppliers. Companies are impacted by the inefficiencies, low levels of visibility and lack of standardization associated with the management of their inbound freight. These problems are exacerbated when companies lack comprehensive strategies for obtaining the lowest possible shipping and unloading costs or a plan to improve the behavior of their suppliers. A complete strategy for inbound freight management needs to encompass the following three aspects; visibility, collaboration and accountability.

Visibility  Although companies control their own destinies on the outbound side of the equation, that level of control dwindles when it comes to inbound freight. In the end, the receiving company does not have full planning and visibility for shipment arrivals and dock reservations. To optimize their inbound, stakeholders can benefit from better visibility of information (e.g., knowing what carrier is being used, exact timing of deliveries, how much manpower is in the DC to load/unload shipments, etc.), real-time data sharing and the knowledge that everyone is working toward a common goal.

Collaboration  By using a comprehensive inbound freight plan based on a collaborative ecosystem of shippers, suppliers and carriers, companies can effectively establish a dynamic rating and unloading allowance program. As companies work in partnership with their suppliers to determine the most cost-effective method to handle each shipment – customer pick-up (CPU) or vendor controlled (VDS), the goal should be to reduce overall shipping costs. By giving suppliers choices, they’ll be able to pick the most effective service and billing procedure. Convert inbound shipments from VDS to CPU shipments only when it’s feasible, and then establish preferred rates with a select group of carriers to handle those inbound shipments at the lowest possible cost and best service type. Use a standard routing guide to establish a set of mandatory carriers that will be used for all VDS and CPU shipments. This will enable LTL pricing improvements, superior service levels and maximize opportunities for LTL consolidation.

Accountability  While companies can’t always control what their suppliers do or the efficiency of suppliers’ systems, they can implement Vendor Inbound Compliance Standards (VICS) to help improve supplier behavior. A comprehensive set of compliance procedures will establish rules and processes that must be followed by suppliers when making deliveries. These accountability levels should also extend to the company’s own supply chain/logistics department and procurement group, both of which play a role in ensuring that products get quickly from their origin to the distribution center (DC). The goal? Improve supplier behavior so that their inefficiencies are not wasting time and money at the DC. It’s also important that a company’s inbound strategy includes leveraging detailed analytics to measure the results of the program and take action where necessary to improve service with suppliers and carriers.

By following this general recipe, companies can work with specialists in inbound freight to develop an unbeatable inbound freight management strategy. But knowing what to do and being able to do it effectively are two entirely different hurdles companies need to jump. It’s for that reason Kuebix has developed SupplierMAX, a program where companies can leverage Kuebix’s technology and logistics experts to manage all or a portion of their inbound freight program. SupplierMAX improves supplier behavior and increases the efficiency of warehouses and distribution centers by incorporating a series of comprehensive strategies to improve inbound operations. To learn more about this program, click HERE to read the SupplierMAX press release in full.

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.

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