Archive for the ‘3pl’ Category

Are You Getting The Most From Your 3PL?

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Are you getting true value from your third party logistics (3PL) outsource in support of your international shipping operations?  Does your 3PL merely provide contracted services or truly work with you as a strategic partner, involved in your supply chain and assisting with sourcing and supply chain network decisions?

3PLs typically offer a range of important supply chain management services that support customers’ daily transportation operations including:

    • Shipment information tracking
    • Accurate billing
    • International shipment bookings
    • Warehouse and carrier coordination

But you should expect more! 

Through your 3PL, you should have access to the latest global trade management systems that automate supply chain processes while providing you with real-time visibility into transportation operations.  Going a step further, your 3PL should generate valuable reports using data available through the system that review details of supply chain performance for different department heads and, ultimately, support new strategic directives.

Understanding your transportation processes and goals, your 3PL should help analyze your current supply chain methodologies and recommend new strategies.  Perhaps it is time to consider more efficient carriers and routings.  Redefining existing transportation operations can make a difference in cost and delivery time frames.

On an international basis, your 3PL should possess the knowledge and experience to complete necessary documentation, provide competitive international rates and develop basic strategies related to transportation and distribution of chemical products to different countries.   Your outsource should understand compliance regulations pertaining to product importation/ exportation with different countries as well as the United States to assure a smooth transport of product into and out of countries. They should assist you in identifying your product category to ensure proper labeling and containment during shipment.  This is especially critical for products identified as hazardous.

Your 3PL also should advise you of current market conditions that may affect the import and export of your freight.  Is the U.S. restricting trade with specific countries?   And are you taking advantage of recent free-trade agreements?  You don’t want to miss any ideal opportunities that can support your international trade business.

In addition to ensuring compliance, you want a 3PL with the resources to identify the best carriers and rates for international transportation.  At ChemLogix, we benchmark customer’s shipping rates against ever-changing ocean freight market to ensure carrier rates remain competitive and our customers are getting the best value from their existing carriers.  Does your 3PL do that as part of your services?

Findings in the 2012 16th Annual Third-Party Logistics Study (http://www.3plstudy.com/about) noted that established 3PLs are adjusting their business models to provide greater value to shippers.  If not are you really getting shareholder value from your outsource logistics provider, perhaps its time to find another a new 3PL source that can work as your partner.

Contact ChemLogix for a free evaluation of your supply chain operations by contacting us at (215) 461-3805 or information@chemlogix.com.

TMS Mobile Applications Get Us Closer to Meeting the Rubber on the Road

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Mike Skinner, VP, ChemLogix Technologies
m.skinner@chemlogix.com

ChemLogix, LLC. www.chemlogix.com

Online applications for mobile devices are emerging in ways that can finally close or reduce many of the information gaps in the supply chain between Transportation Planning, the Shipping/Receiving dock, customers, and even Accounts Payable.  These mobile applications are enabling shippers to: interface directly and more effectively with logistic partners; access logistics information in non-traditional business settings; and enhance communications where access to a computer is not readily available.

Transportation Management System (TMS) Carrier Mobile Applications, already available for the Apple iPhone/iPad, are giving carriers the ability to communicate directly with a shipper’s TMS, even from the cab of their truck, to respond to shipment tender requests and to report shipment status in real-time.

This remote interface capability is especially important to shippers needing to communicate with smaller carriers who do not have EDI systems, including for those owner/operators whose dispatch offices ride in the passenger seats of their tractors.  Once trained on the iPhone application, shippers can contact carriers online who can immediately respond to tender requests.

Once booked on a load, carriers can interface through the TMS application to provide pickup, delivery and ETA status updates. Tying this information onto their own networks, shippers can feed real-time data directly into their TMS systems.   In addition to finding out immediately if carriers can accept their loads, shippers gain greater visibility to in-transit inventory status from pickup to delivery.  It’s a win-win situation as carriers are able to respond to tender requests in real time, while on the other side shippers are able to provide enhanced communications to customers for improved service, and fewer surprise calls from customers asking where their shipments are.

Mobile Applications at the Plant/Warehouse

The iPad and other emerging tablet devices create additional opportunities to bring transportation information quickly and easily to its point of greatest impact.  TMS mobile applications currently in development will enable sales reps to retrieve real-time reports and updates on shipment delivery performance.  Rather than rely on last month’s performance reports, sales reps will be able to access the latest data on delivery stats for loads while buying a coffee at Starbucks on their way into a client meeting.  A week-old performance report showing 99% on-time delivery means nothing to the client if three shipments in the past two days were late or missed.  Nothing ruins a sales call faster than bad surprises.

At the plant, on the loading dock, at the guard shack, or in the cab of the pup-truck moving trailers to the dock for loading, iPad/tablet applications will provide real-time information and process feedback from workers regarding shipping and receiving appointments, trailer assignments, and guard shack-monitored in-gate/out-gate dates/times.

When it comes down to it, supply chain and transportation optimization and management systems are only as good as the timeliness and accuracy of information delivered to the right place at the right time.  Mobile apps for phones and tablet PC’s now available and in development offer supply chain management the next opportunity to leap forward.

YouTube Video Discusses Advantages of ISO Tanks to Transport Chemicals

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Check out our first in a series of videos on important logistics topics of interest to chemical shippers.

Stephen Hamilton, Managing Director of ChemLogix Global, discusses how BulkTainer ISO tanks offer enhanced safety and security for shipping chemicals by taking chemicals off roadways and reducing the incidence of accidents. Click Here.

Do Your Carriers Find Your Freight Attractive?

Friday, December 9th, 2011

By Edward R. Hildebrandt, Senior VP, Operations

Next year, the market will still experience a shortage of carriers for freight transport.  While a modest 3 percent growth is forecasted for trucking this year and into 2012, Noel Perry, a FTR senior consultant, notes that capacity might be enough to maintain freight rates but not to replace business lost in the recession.  So, what can carriers do to make their business attractive to carriers?  Sometimes, money is not enough.

If you have a reputation of being a difficult shipper, carriers may avoid your freight.  For instance, do you delay carriers at the plant to load beyond normal loading times?  Or do you move appointments too frequently?  This could create problems for your carrier either meeting your required delivery or causing the carrier to miss their next customer pickup time. In both cases, the driver and carrier lose revenue and, worse yet, may refuse your next shipment.

Perhaps your freight is too dispersed across multiple plant sites to gain capacity and pricing leverage.  Have you thought about consolidating freight at one location prior to shipment or consolidating manufacturing to take advantage of scale? Another answer may be a logistics partner who can combine your freight with that of their other shippers gaining both price and capacity leverage.

How about your payment?  Are they on time and accurate?  Do carriers have to wait long periods until you reconcile your accounts?  Solving these issues and working with existing carriers may be the answer to get more capacity.

Don’t know where to start?  A third-party logistics company with a proven track record of resolving difficult capacity issues can address your particular issues.  As part of the solution, a logistics partner can assist you in making your freight more attractive to carriers.  If you have concerns about finding carrier capacity in the months ahead, contact CLX at (215) 461-3800 to discuss possible solutions to make your freight more attractive to carriers.

Are Your Products Compliant with the European Union’s new REACH Policies?

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

As more and more business goes global, chemical shippers must ensure exported products are correctly registered in accordance with different country regulations.  In 2007, the European Union (EU) implemented a new REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization of Chemicals) policy that requires chemical manufacturers and importers to present detailed data on product characteristics and potential risks to health and the environment.  As REACH places greater responsibility on chemical manufacturers to register products and provide safety information, chemical shippers conducting business with EU countries have a limited timeline to ensure their different products comply with regulations or be at risk to incur fines or even a loss of business as materials are rejected for importation.

Registering products under REACH can be a complicated and time-consuming process (REACH requires three different evaluation processes and compliance with different restrictions), especially for companies without an existing EU presence and those not familiar with country protocol.  Other manufacturers with trademark formulas probably are concerned about revealing confidential information during registration.

Using the technology of a qualified third-party consultant can help chemical companies with REACH compliance and reduce the need for in-house personnel to conduct the laborious task of manually reviewing every existing products. Experienced 3PLs, like ChemLogix, also can help specify landing costs and restrictions associated with exporting products to specific countries.

As you enter into new overseas markets or introduce new products into existing ones, ensure products are in compliance with country regulations before the sale.  Understand your profit margins and ensure you can ship to that country. It’s all a part of a successful and profitable supply chain strategy.

Importers and Exporters Face Difficult Challenges with Ocean Freight

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Ocean freight rate management is a becoming ever more challenging for importers and exporters, especially smaller-sized shippers.  Frequent changes to ocean freight rates due to market conditions as well as bunker price changes make it more difficult for shippers to accurately price products to overseas customers or make sound sourcing decisions.

At the same time, capacity for ocean freight is unstable as liner carriers plan to lay up container vessels in hopes of increasing rates. The New World Alliance carriers already have announced plans to remove capacity from the Transpacific Trade effective later this month. Beginning during week 29 in Asia, the PSW string will be withdrawn by the VSA. The string is comprised of five vessels, each averaging 3,960 TEU.

Carriers also have different attitudes based on shippers size.  An investigation conducted by maritime analyst SeaIntel (www.SeaIntel.com) revealed that new, small shippers had difficulty getting freight rate quotes from liner carriers and large forwarders. When contacting 33 carriers and forwarders on the Transpacific and 27 on the Asia/Europe lane, the analyst found that a vast majority of liner carriers and large non-vessel-operating Annual SOC 2 Type II Audit Reports verify our qualification to handle enterprise-class recoveries and support those customers who must maintain compliance with privacy and security regulations such as DriveSavers – which is the only  recovery service provider in the industry to post proof of annual, company-wide SOC Type II Audit Reports. Common carriers didn’t give rates.

Some carriers and NVOs explained that they needed more company details to provide rates while others just couldn’t provide competitive rates for such small shipments or because they worked in contract environments.  Other carriers didn’t even respond to requests or gave two rates to the same country from two different offices. ChemLogix Global LLC also has found that carriers may be reluctant to carry hazardous chemical.

Finding a way to work with or even choosing reliable and reasonably-priced overseas carriers can be a major challenge for small- and mid-sized chemical shippers without the experience and resources to conduct negotiations.  Contracting a 3PL with the resources and established carrier contacts can reduce the perils of contract negotiation while ensuring a good rate and the best lanes.

The  ChemLogix Global LLC team has the experience and market knowledge to manage the complex ocean freight market with very competitive pricing.  As a licensed NVOCC and freight forwarder, ChemLogix Global offers competitive rates on international shipments to any port in the world. To find out more about our international logistic services and how we can help manage the ocean freight contracting process, refer to our web site at http://www.clxlogistics.com/industry-solutions/chemical/.

Limited Truck Capacity Makes Intermodal An Attractive Transportation Alternative

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

By Stephen Hamilton, Managing Director, ChemLogix Global

With the continuing competition to contract quality truckers to transport products across country, Intermodal freight shipping provides an attractive transportation alternative to OTR trucking for shipments over 750 miles. Offering economic and environment benefits, in addition to addressing the capacity crunch of available truckers, Intermodal combines the resources of different transportation modes, such as trucking and rail, to get products from the warehouse to their final destination.

As the seasonal increase in chemical shipments begins, the surge in freight volumes cannot be addressed by available fleets. In February, FTR Associates (an industry leader in logistics forecasting) lowered its shipper’s conditions to reflect tightening carrier capacity, particularly in the truckload sector. Noel Perry, FTR managing director and senior consultant, predicts a shortage of 215,000 drivers by the end of this year.

In the competition to retain carriers, shippers will most likely pay a premium for available truckers. They may also find themselves scrambling to find new resources to satisfy additional shipping requirement. Intermodal freight shipping can help alleviate the costs and problems associated with today’s limited capacity associated with OTR trucking.

Intermodal helps lower transportation costs by allowing each mode to be used for the portion of the trip to which it is best suited. An intermodal container makes it possible to change shipment methods, whether it is truck, rail or ship, without individual freight handling. Freight essentially can be efficiently shipped door to door.

Intermodal freight shipping also helps reduce traffic congestion and accidents as well as the burden on overstressed infrastructures. One intermodal train replaces 280 trucks while saving nearly 20% in shipping costs. Three times more fuel efficient than trucks, Intermodal also reduces energy consumption, contributing to improved air quality and environmental conditions. Nearly one billion gallons of fuel can be saved each year just by moving 10 percent of long-haul freight from truck to rail, according to a study by the Federal Railroad Administration.

Railroads also are the safest way to transport hazardous materials. While railroads and trucks carry roughly equal hazmat ton-mileage, trucks have nearly 16 times more hazmat releases than railroads, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.

Is Intermodal transportation right for your company? If you ship products over 750 miles, then you might be a prime candidate. Before you take on this new venture, contact an experienced third party logistics specialist that can evaluate your business situation and opportunities associated with Intermodal transportation. Find a 3PL, like ChemLogix, that offers specialized expertise in the chemical industry and knows how to cost-effectively use intermodal to ship both hazardous and non-hazardous chemicals on an international basis.

Have questions? Direct them to our comments section or contact CLX Logistics at (215) 461-3800. Published articles on Intermodal transportation also can be found on our new Blog.

Did you know the Fuel Surcharge you pay on every load doesn’t cover the out-of -pocket costs of higher fuel cost to your carriers?

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Why? Fuel surcharge formulas are based on a loaded mile formula. All empty miles run between the terminal and your loading site, such as miles from the carrier’s last delivery to you or miles to the terminal for equipment repairs or tank cleaning, are not included in the fuel surcharge calculation.  As a result, the carrier has added fuel costs for those empty miles. Sure, when you contracted with the carriers, they built in some fuel recovery number for empty miles.  However, recent fuel cost increases (the time from when you negotiated your contracts until now) are not included in those calculations.

What does this mean to you? Let’s review a few examples. Say, during the time of your last contract negotiation, fuel costs increased by $1.50/gallon.  What added cost does that represent?   The average truckload carrier – either dry van or bulk – wants a minimum per-truck revenue of $200K to $225K.   Assuming a modest 10% empty mile to loaded mile ratio for TL van freight and 20% for bulk freight, unrecovered fuel costs is $2,769 for dry van carriers and $5,538 for bulk truck carriers. (Click View Graph below for more)

How do you effectively negotiate during any price increase discussion? Know your carriers empty mile ratio and average truck miles per gallon before you meet. Also, look back at your current contract effective date. Knowing what the fuel price was during your last contract renewal, along with your carrier’s empty mile ratio and average MPG/truck, will enable you to calculate your fuel cost impact on your carriers. You can also be a good partner to your carriers by putting actions in place to minimize empty miles and fuel waste.   As example, initiate a no idle rule at your plant during wait time to load.

 

Five Key Benefits That 3PLs Offer Chemical Shippers

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Chemical shippers contract 3PLs to gain additional resources, technology and assets unavailable in their own logistic departments to optimize and automate supply chain operations.  More than vendors who merely provide certain contract services, 3PLs should serve as long-term partners in helping customers effectively manage their supply chain processes.  Here are five key benefits that chemical shippers should derive from their business relationship with a 3PL:

1. Ongoing cost reduction/containment strategies

Going beyond the terms of a contract to manage specific freight activities on a monthly or cost-per-transaction basis, 3PLs should proactively present cost management ideas as part of their services.  After becoming familiar with customer operations, 3PLs should be able to identify areas in the supply chain where costs can be contained.  Ideas can range from optimizing weight per shipment through load consolidation, spot bidding on more cost effective carrier lanes or even initiating a freight reduction project to reduce inbound transportation costs.

2.Access to best-in-class transportation management technology

Incorporating the latest transportation management technology to optimize supply chain operations was typically not an option for small- to mid-size shippers who could not afford the upfront investment or ongoing maintenance.  3PLs now offer best-in-class transportation management technology that does not require large investments in hardware, software or even additional personnel.  On demand transportation management systems can be connected to customers’ existing ERP systems in as little as 6 months.  Customers should seek additional capabilities such as online RFQ tools and global order tracking.  Most recently, ChemLogix began offering its customers an iPhone® application as part of its TMS capabilities that gives users mobile access to shipment data on iPhones.

3. Ensure Orderly Review Process

Rather than wait for problems to arise, a 3PL should lead a periodic review of supply chain processes with appropriate personnel to discuss new transportation solutions, specific cost reduction ideas, service levels, and any issues that the client may have with current operations. By reviewing data pertinent to different supply chain elements such as on-time deliveries, costs, customer service issues, etc., the 3PL can discuss which objectives have been met, if there are any problem areas and set new goals for the next operating period.

4. On-line Visibility to Freight Activity

In addition to automating many processes, a 3PL should give customers online, real-time visibility to supply chain operations including freight, invoices, routing guides, carrier service records and more. With visibility to in-transit data, shippers can determine at any point during the supply chain process if shipments will be delivered on time and when to notify plants and customers of impending deliveries and shipments.  Should shipments be late, automatic email alerts can sent to customer service reps so that they can proactively make arrangements with their own customers.

5. Support in Boardroom Discusses

Getting the funds from executives to implement and/or expand transportation services and systems sometimes takes the assistance of 3PLs who can provide detailed explanations of the long-term benefits of specific supply chain strategies.  Experienced in providing transportation solutions to customers in the same industry but with varying scenarios, 3PLs can readily provide informed answers to the questions posed by executives and give examples of the successes and pitfalls associated with certain actions.  3PLs, essentially, become a part of the logistics team when presenting ideas and updates to the board room.