CAI Transportation Blog

27 Jun, 2018

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


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 their challenges, 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


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 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


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


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?


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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09 May, 2018

4 obstacles to overcome in the automotive supply chain


As an average person sits behind the wheel of their car, they probably don’t even imagine the enormous logistics operations that went into building it. With roughly 30,000 parts individually sourced and assembled, the process is incredibly complex. As an automotive shipping manager, you are aware of this process and you have to make sure it goes smoothly—but staying on top of your game is increasingly challenging.

According to a report by Mforesight, interactions between original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and their tier 1 suppliers have increased significantly in the past decades. The sheer number of suppliers who contribute to part designs grew by a staggering 70 percent. Despite this positive development, relations between the two sides continue to be fragmented—opening a whole world of possibilities for innovative and proactive logistics management.

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02 May, 2018

Global container shortage: what's causing it and what to do about it


Occasionally, because of a combination of market forces and regulation, one part of the supply chain will become temporarily constricted, causing ripple effects that complicate logistics operations. For instance, in recent months, we’ve seen a U.S. capacity crunch, caused by the combination of a driver shortage and the enforcement of the ELD mandate, among other factors.

But truck capacity isn’t the only piece of the transportation puzzle in shorter supply these days. In fact, the demand for shipping containers has started to outstrip supply, causing prices to rise and purchasing managers to look for savvy ways to beat their competitors to any available product.

What are the factors causing this recent container shortage? And how can companies that depend on steady access to used and new containers keep their businesses running smoothly? Here’s what you need to know about the current situation:

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27 Apr, 2018

How to know it's time to add intermodal to your supply chain

add intermodal to your supply chainAs a shipping manager, you’re always pushing to better optimize your supply chain operations. If you ignore inefficiencies, your company will be less competitive and may have to sacrifice precious profit margins. Luckily, intermodal transport is a viable option for solving many of the issues plaguing logistics supply chains.

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