6 Trending Transportation News Stories: June 2016

Posted by PLS Logistics June 30, 2016 at 10:00 AM

  • Wal-Mart Testing Grocery Delivery + Drones. To compete with Amazon, Wal-Mart stores are testing a grocery-delivery service with Uber
    (in the Phoenix market) and Lyft (in the Denver market). Once a customer places a grocery order online, it will be filled and packaged by employees, then sent in an Uber or Lyft to the customer’s location. The retailer is also testing drone use at its warehouses. Drones capture real-time images and spot missing inventory. A drone can complete this task in about 1 day, but it would take a full month if done manually.
  • Volvo Concept Truck to Change Long-Haul Operations. Volvo developed a new concept vehicle that cuts fuel consumption by more than 30%. One of the key factors behind the low fuel consumption is its incredible 40% improvement in aerodynamic efficiency that has benefited both the tractor and trailer. The aim is to improve the efficiency of long-haul truck transportation by 50%.
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Does Carrier Performance Improve When Shippers Pay More?

Posted by PLS Logistics June 28, 2016 at 10:00 AM

With industry experts predicting an increase in freight rates later this year, pressure is growing for shippers to reduce transportation spend. But, if a shipper pays lower freight rates than their peers, will it negatively affect the carrier’s performance? A recent study set out to answer this question.

Performance criteria in the study included metrics like transit time, technical competencies, flexibility in disruption, information, and claim history.

There was no absolute relationship between carrier performance and freight rate. But, when shippers paid below market average, there was a visible decrease in on time delivery. An average rate $50 below market price led to less than 40% on time delivery. A rate $20 below market price led to 40-70% on time delivery. Shippers with on time delivery between 80-90% paid just over the market standard. There was little to no rate incentive for achieving 90-100% on time delivery.

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What Supply Chain Efficiency Will Mean in 2020

Posted by PLS Logistics June 23, 2016 at 10:30 AM

Supply chain efficiency is top of mind for companies in all sectors – efficiency means reduced costs and increased output. Today, tech
advancements like drone delivery, autonomous vehicles and the Internet of Things enable supply chains to increase efficiency and productivity by connecting to smart components in the supply chain.

Supply chain management has experienced an accelerated rate of change - first, implementing machinery, followed by electronic inventory, routing and record keeping. Then, ERPs enabled better forecasting and management. These modifications were necessary with the growth of globalization, manufacturing and technology.

Supply chains will continue to evolve with technology and meet the growing needs of consumers.

What trends will affect future supply chains? 

  1. Declining Product Lifecycles
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Are Railroads the Golden Standard of Real-Time Data?

Posted by PLS Logistics June 22, 2016 at 10:30 AM

Shippers and trucking companies alike could learn a few things from the ways rail companies, especially Union Pacific (UP), are implementing real-time, big data technology to overcome supply chain obstacles.

Union Pacific had several problems to address, and technology was the only solution.

UP’s Problems

Freight rail companies like UP face unique problems. There are 140,000 miles of railroad tracks across the U.S. that move 5 million tons of goods a day. Maintaining visibility into train and track conditions across this vast, high-traffic network is extremely difficult.

Adding to the challenge is the fact that most freight rail cars don’t have electric power. This means that RFID technology, which has been used by passenger trains since the early 90s, is not a viable means of visibility into train location.

The lack of electric power also means a lack of knowledge into train and track conditions. Heavy duty trucks have the capability to utilize technology which can notify a carrier of truck malfunctions so that a crash or delay can be avoided as best as possible. Freight train cars do not have this capability.

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Transportation Outlook: What if There's Another Recession?

Posted by PLS Logistics June 21, 2016 at 10:30 AM

As of June 2016, the U.S. economic outlook is uncertain. There are hopeful signs: employers are still hiring new workers, more jobs and cheaper gas have led to a small bump in consumer spending, and home builders are in full swing. MarketWatch predicts 2.5% GDP growth in the second quarter of 2016.

And, there are signs of an impending recession: consumer spending was severely hampered by education and healthcare costs despite cheap gas, overall inventory to sales ratios are high and continue to rise, and the Chinese economy is stumbling.

With conflicting signs, nobody can say with certainty where the U.S. economy is headed. But given the damage the 2008 recession did to the freight transportation industry, questions have to be asked – what happens if there’s another recession? How will this impact freight transport, and how can that impact be mitigated?

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When Will Your Products be Delivered by Drones?

Posted by PLS Logistics June 16, 2016 at 9:30 AM

Shippers are enthusiastic about drone technology because the devices could greatly cut delivery times and costs. 

The drone revolution will disrupt an assortment of industries, from agriculture and filmmaking to transportation and healthcare. Logistics will have to adapt to changes as more retailers experiment with drones and the technology evolves to be cheap and efficient. The transportation industry will be transformed by drones, especially in terms of last-mile service.

Online retailer Amazon has been testing drone delivery since 2013. Google has pledged drone delivery service by 2017 and Wal-Mart is currently testing drone use.

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7 Tips to Improve Loading Dock Efficiency

Posted by PLS Logistics June 14, 2016 at 9:30 AM

Loading and unloading freight plays a crucial part in the overall transportation process. Inefficient dock procedures can lead to higher transportation costs, slower delivery times and customer dissatisfaction. It doesn’t matter the volume of freight you ship, efficiency at your facility is important.

Here are 7 tips to keep dock operations safe and productive:

  1. Prioritize equipment maintenance. Regular maintenance insures equipment will be working properly. Making sure levelers and forklifts are operational will lead to far less frequent delays. Having equipment that makes loading/unloading easier will also help decrease employee turnover.

  2. Use RFID technology. Using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) allows you to track individual products, pallets and shipments. With RFID, loading dock employees can check shipment statuses and make sure the right freight is on the right truck, without having to search through the paperwork.

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Parcel Shippers, You’ll Pay More in 2016 if You Don’t Take these 3 Steps

Posted by PLS Logistics June 9, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Parcel freight shipping refers to small package shipments. Parcel shippers face hidden fees and complex processes, leaving them with limited visibility of overall freight spend.

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Diesel Climbs: What Will Happen to Transportation Rates?

Posted by PLS Logistics June 7, 2016 at 8:30 AM

The price of diesel fuel will play a heightened role in transportation rates in the next couple of years. Fuel costs are always an important indicator of over-the-road (OTR) shipping costs, but a perfect storm of events will make diesel prices more important than ever before.

As of June 2016, diesel fuel is $2.382 per gallon on average –a high for the year. Fuel prices are expected to rise for the rest of 2016 and throughout 2017. Under normal circumstances, this would lead to rate increases due to higher fuel surcharges, but the next few years in the freight industry are far from normal, and a few different outcomes are possible.

Obstacles in Transportation

To see the impact of diesel prices on transportation rates, it’s first important to understand the many challenges facing OTR carriers. These obstacles all affect efficiency and profitability for trucking companies, consequently affecting rates.

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A Fully Automated Transportation Industry is Closer than You Think

Posted by PLS Logistics June 2, 2016 at 9:30 AM

Over the last 30 years, the American population has increased 35%. It’s expected that 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. These facts amplify the pressure to correct infrastructure in order to support the movement of goods and people, and minimize related environmental impacts.

Although America’s multimodal freight system is proficient, moving approximately 63 tons of goods per American each year, the demand for more efficient freight moves is rising. The movement of goods is critical to economic strength.

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