CAI Transportation Blog

11 Jul, 2018

Why the Logistics of 2018 is the "New Normal"

logistics-2018-new-normal

This year has been intense for the logistics industry. Shippers continue to deal with what could be one of the most difficult capacity markets in recent history. Some transportation professionals believe this uptick in shipping rates and lack of capacity will be short-lived. But according to DAT, “this period of elevated rates is the new normal.”

To thrive in this new economic environment, you’ll need to know what factors caused the industry’s current state. This insight will help you develop a more accurate action plan for growth in 2018 and beyond.

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05 Jul, 2018

What is LTL shipping and when is it the right choice?

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People who work in the transportation industry may still be scratching their heads at how 2018 is shaking out so far. While demand generally shrinks in the first few months of the year and then tightens again in advance of the holiday season (sometimes as early as July or August), this year has bucked that trend. Carriers and 3PLs have consistently stayed busy since January trying to meet shippers’ demand for capacity, without a slowdown on the horizon.

With competition and costs for available truck capacity higher than many shippers are used to, supply chain managers at growing businesses may start seeking solutions they haven’t considered before. Intermodal shipping is one example; the use of a combination of train and over-the-road transportation has certainly helped some companies keep their costs down. Another approach has also started to gain steam in the current logistics climate: LTL shipping.

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28 Jun, 2018

7 common disruptors in the global supply chain + how to mitigate your risk

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The global supply chain faces risks every day. A natural disaster may strike, a government may tighten its regulations, or incorrect paperwork can all cause varying disruptions to your supply chain. While some risks can be avoided, many are out of a supply chain professional’s control. So, while you can’t control every possible disruption to your supply chain, how can you work to mitigate the risks and respond to the delays?

Evaluating risks in the global supply chain

When evaluating your supply chain risk and developing a plan to mitigate it, it’s important to understand the different approaches and know which is right for your product and role in the supply chain.

To evaluate and handle supply chain risks, there are generally two approaches: atomistic and holistic. An atomistic approach looks at a specific or limited link in the supply chain. You’ll often see this approach used for simple, highly available materials that have low value. When little is to be lost, it’s easier to take this atomistic approach. It takes less time and effort, but it also comes with less of a payoff if things go wrong.

Alternatively, there’s the holistic approach to evaluating supply chain risk. This approach looks at the supply chain as a whole, rather than at specific links in the chain. It’s more complex than the atomistic approach and is typically reserved for higher value materials that may be rare or complex. A disruption with these materials would have a much bigger effect on the entire supply chain than simple, available materials.

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27 Jun, 2018

How to overcome the 4 biggest hurdles in the chemical supply chain

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Today’s chemical manufacturers are faced with a range of evolving hurdles that will require updated processes and new software to solve. Some say it can’t be done. We know it can, and we’ll show you how.

Like all industries, chemical suppliers must overcome the ELD mandate and the driver shortage, while at the same time resolving their lack of visibility into their supply chain process and navigating some of the most strict regulations.

But even the world’s most dangerous cargo has to reach its destination—so let's analyze the factors that led to the chemical industry’s struggle and offer some perspective on how logistics managers can overcome these issues.

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21 Jun, 2018

International logistics: quality service vs. low cost

international-logistics-service-vs-cost

Fast. Good. Cheap—Pick two. Most people are familiar with this adage about the cost-quality tradeoff triangle. But when it comes to the transportation market, this isn’t necessarily true in times of abundant capacity. In fact, there are times when it’s possible for shippers and supply chain managers to have all three, with high-quality carriers competing with one another to provide lower costs and increased speed.

However, in a competitive market like the one we’re experiencing now, supply chain managers may find themselves having to make tough decisions in order to keep their logistics operations running smoothly. For some, this means increasing flexibility when it comes to shipping speed. For others, it means finding more room in the budget to maintain existing timelines.

A third response to the existing logistics market, however, will generally yield subpar results: using lowest cost as the sole determining factor for transportation and logistics services.

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20 Jun, 2018

Supply chain visibility: what it is, why it matters + how technology can help

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Despite being one of the most dynamic industries around the globe, supply chain and logistics can sometimes get a reputation for lagging behind in digital technology. And yet, we’ve heard big talk about blockchain, IoT, and big data being the future of logistics. To an extent, that future is here. But for many companies, actually implementing this type of technology at a large scale seems a long way off. Before we can embrace the technology of tomorrow, we have to understand and utilize the technology of today.

Although it’s been a topic discussed in supply chain and logistics for some decades, many businesses still struggle to capture visibility into their own supply chains. We’ve come a long way, even in the last ten years, with the technology available to us to provide visibility. So, with all the talk of visibility, why can’t we seem to get a handle on it? First, we need to understand what we mean when we say, “visibility,” why we should care about it, and how to achieve it within our organizations.  

Simply put, visibility in logistics is electronic information integrated between trading partners. But that’s only the beginning.

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13 Jun, 2018

Six months into the ELD mandate: what's changed?

six-months-eld-mandate

Six months have passed since the ELD mandate for commercial vehicles, and the dust has yet to settle. The idea seemed fairly reasonable: ELDs (electronic logging devices) would track essential data points, including truck drivers’ hours of service. This measure aimed to increase safety by reducing the number of fatigued truck drivers on the road. The new technology was supposed to make the shipping process more efficient and transparent. So what effects of the mandate have we seen to date?

The ELD measure was introduced in 2015, giving shippers and carriers a two-year head start to prepare for the new modus operandi. Come 2018, it seems the majority are still unprepared. But is the current situation the result of the government’s unreasonable request, or our instinct to stick to the “we’ve always done it this way” line of thinking? Let’s start by analyzing the initial impact of ELDs on U.S. roads.

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06 Jun, 2018

3 important things to look for in a container sales provider

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Anyone who has worked in the transportation industry for any amount of time knows how crucial relationships are to successful job performance. Especially in times of regulatory changes, tight capacity, or container shortages, smooth and uneventful shipments require a large network of experts and specialists with various capabilities.

For people whose jobs rely on access to shipping containers, these relationships are particularly important right now. The current container shortage is the result of limited supply and increasing demand, and its effects are felt industry-wide. Finding an available product in the necessary condition and quantity has become a strategic exercise for most wholesalers or container modifiers. The best way to maintain access to used containers for purchase is to develop communicative relationships with reliable first-tier container sellers— preferably with an extensive inventory of assets.

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30 May, 2018

3 factors driving change in the automotive supply chain

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Elon Musk’s electric and self-driving cars seemed like science fiction fifteen years ago. In 2018, the visionary and CEO of Tesla is driving the conversation about the future of the automotive industry. It took a while for his two primary missions—electric and autonomous vehicles—to hit the roads, but the future is now officially here.

According to the London School of Economics, between June 2012 and February 2016, Tesla made five major software releases for its Model S electric car. They had 23 minor and 89 maintenance updates, amounting to 117 releases. On average, this vehicle received updates every 11.5 days. Compare this to the traditional automotive industry whose products are still largely present on the road. You buy a final product with little space for changes and tweaks. So how do we adapt to the vehicles of the future where their components are in a state of constant change?

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16 May, 2018

Does white glove transportation service really make a difference?

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White gloves: the picture of first-class service. In fine dining and hospitality, white gloves signify elegance, luxury, and the promise of VIP treatment—but what does it mean for transportation? Can it really make a difference in your supply chain?

Like the step-above service you may find in a five-star restaurant or hotel, white glove transportation services go above and beyond the traditional services of shipping and delivery. In transportation, white glove service means you receive specialized services for what you need to move, especially in the first or final mile. This could include overnight storage, packaging for fragile or over-dimension items, special delivery requests, assembly, debris removal, and more. But before you send out an RFP for logistics services, consider if white glove services are right for your company and its transportation needs.

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