CAI Transportation Blog

14 Feb, 2018

Solving the last mile: delivery solutions for retailers


The final delivery of an item to a home or place of business is the only interaction most customers have with the supply chain. Except for that brief interaction with the person who hands them their packages, they’re often unaware of the complexities involved in producing or transporting the items they hold in their hands.

But as any supply chain manager in the retail sector can attest, this final step in the delivery of goods is no simple feat. In fact, it is often the most fraught with complication, cost, and frustration. Of all the complex moving parts of the whole operation, the last few hours on a truck can cause more headache than the rest of the process combined. There are several reasons for this.

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07 Feb, 2018

The driver shortage: What's causing it and how to overcome it

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18 Jan, 2018

Capacity solutions for a greener supply chain


The logistics industry has seen several decades of rapid growth, as companies have found innovative and efficient ways to bring goods to every corner of the globe. While that means access to more products for consumers, job creation, healthy economic growth, and closer international trade relationships, it also comes with one unfortunate side effect: increased carbon emissions.

As climate science reveals more about the effects of human behavior on the environment, many companies and industries have started to examine (and take steps to reduce) their carbon footprints. This is not just beneficial for the sustainability the planet, but it’s also good business; many consumer groups and individuals prefer to support companies with a stated focus on improving their environmental metrics. However, sustainability initiatives often (and understandably) get placed on the back burner. In past years, January has typically been a slow month for businesses giving supply chain managers more time to evaluate their processes and set carbon emissions goals for the upcoming year. For companies trying to maintain a smooth a supply chain without exceeding budgets, reducing environmental impact may become less of a priority.

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03 Jan, 2018

What rising transportation costs will mean for logistics in 2018


In 2017, we highlighted some of the major themes we believed would color the year for logistics. We included implementing Internet of Things (IoT) technology across more fleets and supply chains, increased infrastructure spending, and tightening capacity resulting from factors like government regulations. Now, as we enter a new year, we’re asking again: what can we expect in 2018, and how will it affect our businesses? While we could talk about logistics trends like omnichannel and last mile delivery, we want to address the bigger challenge to the chain: rising transportation costs. Let’s look into what’s happening in the world of logistics and how companies can take a proactive approach to change in the industry.

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18 Dec, 2017

ELD Noncompliance: What's really at stake?


In December 2015, the FMCSA formally introduced their mandate that commercial vehicles be outfitted with electronic logging devices (ELDs), which track several important data points, including drivers’ hours of service. The mandate provided an additional two years from the announcement for fleets to prepare, setting the official implementation date for December 18, 2017.

Supporters believe the rule will increase safety in the industry by helping reduce the number of fatigued truck drivers on the road. They also believe that the uniform use of ELDs should give fleet owners the ability to see real-time data, reduce inefficiencies, and increase profits.

But to detractors, it represents a potential hit to productivity. In addition to the cost of the devices (anywhere from $200 to $800 per unit), there’s the cost of installation, maintenance, and ongoing access to the data. Also, most experienced drivers are accustomed to using paper logbooks. The time and effort involved in training them to use a new system— and ensuring they continue to use it— is not insignificant.  

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07 Dec, 2017

Preparing for the ELD mandate: How to reduce cost and increase efficiency


On December 18, 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will officially roll out the ELD mandate for trucks in America. To promote safety on the road, this mandate will require certain carriers and drivers to use electronic logging devices (ELD) in their vehicles. As the date draws near, we expect to see rates rise and capacity tighten. If you’re a carrier or driver required to track Hours of Service (HOS) and maintain Records of Duty Status (RODS), you know the time to act is now—but implementing these changes can be expensive.

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29 Nov, 2017

How to boost productivity and predictability in a fast-paced industry


“No two days are the same.”

This is something we hear often from our logistics customers—it’s what makes their jobs difficult, but it’s also what they love about their jobs. Ask anyone who manages a fleet, a distribution center, or a supply chain, and they’ll agree that this industry is fast-paced. You need to have the right products in the right place at the right time (for the right price).

When managing logistics operations, there are many variables at play. Sometimes things don’t go as planned: trucks break down, drivers show up with the wrong equipment, construction clogs roads, and natural disasters can affect capacity. Then there’s vendors and your own staff to manage.

When even one of these variables occurs, you may find yourself racing to put out fires, spending your entire day on an issue you hadn’t planned. When so much is beyond your control, how do you keep productivity up and inefficiencies down?

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15 Nov, 2017

What is reverse logistics?

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When we talk about the traditional flow of logistics, we imagine the movement of raw materials to one or several manufacturers. Then, we picture those completed goods moved to distributors or final consumers, or some similar combination. Whatever parties are involved,  the focus involves moving products forward from source to final destination.

But what about when an item needs to move backward, from a consumer back to the store, or from the store back to the manufacturer? These instances are examples of a process called reverse logistics.

Reverse logistics involves the movement of items back at least one step through the supply chain. Sometimes this is for merchandise being returned due to personal preference or due to product recalls. Sometimes it’s for the repair or refurbishment of a used item to recapture some value. Other times, it’s for the responsible recycling of materials. Whatever the reasons for backward movement, it’s an important consideration for supply chain managers across many industries.

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01 Nov, 2017

How to create an RFP that attracts the best logistics partner for your business


In many articles, we’ve discussed the importance of working with a third-party logistics partner: the expertise, reliability, and convenience they offer can make a significant impact in your supply chain management efforts and outcomes. We’ve also stressed the importance of having a good working relationship with your 3PL so you can call upon them whenever a need arises. But if you don’t already have an established relationship with a 3PL, how do you get one?

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13 Oct, 2017

Natural disasters and the spot bid market: how to avoid paying too much

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When it comes to ensuring adequate capacity for their goods, supply chain managers have various tools at their disposal. If they’ve planned ahead and know exactly what needs to go where (and by when), contracting with carriers in advance is often the best way to ensure peace of mind and a seamless experience.

However, the shipping process doesn’t always fit neatly into a plan. Suppliers can miss deadlines, throwing the whole process off by several days. Infrastructure problems can cause trucks to need to change their routes, altering the timeline. Orders may be increased, which means supply chain managers need to find more capacity on short notice. In these cases, existing transportation contracts may not account for the full scope of supply chain needs, and it may be time to turn to the spot bid market to fill in gaps.

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