8 Things to Know if You've Never Worked with a Freight Broker

Posted by PLS Logistics March 16, 2017 at 9:04 AM

A substantial amount of over-the-road freight transportation is handled by freight brokers.  A freight broker is a person or company that brings together a shipper (with freight to move) and a qualified carrier (who has capacity to move the freight).

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State of the Market: 3PL Relationships Focus on Adding Value

Posted by PLS Logistics February 16, 2017 at 9:30 AM

In the past, shippers and their third-party logistics providers stuck to a uniformly transactional relationship. This relationship was one of utility for both parties, and lacked any true value or longevity.

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Supply Chain Automation: The Only Answer to E-Commerce Challenges

Posted by PLS Logistics August 19, 2016 at 1:00 PM

The number of online shoppers is estimated to reach 270 million by 2020. In 2015, online sales totaled $335 billion, and a recent report from Forrester predicts that online sales will grow by an average annual rate of 9.32% over the next 5 years.

Demanding e-commerce shoppers are challenging the way businesses approach fulfillment. Among many different solutions employed across a number of industries, automation in the supply chain has been the most successful.

Automation in the Warehouse

Automation in the supply chain helps increase speed, accuracy and productivity. Today’s warehouses are no exception - they are hi-tech and extremely efficient, using automation to rapidly fulfill orders.

“To be great in e-commerce, you need to be sophisticated inside the warehouse,” said Karl Siebrecht of Flexe. Robotic installations in the US were up 11% in 2014 over the previous year.

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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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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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Best Tip Ever: CPG Can Use JIT Transportation

Posted by PLS Logistics May 19, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Transportation is vital to CPG operations. In fact, in a recent study, 83% of supply chain leaders in the CPG industry say transportation is their top concern. The CPG supply chain has become more complex and consumer demands are driving the need for transportation efficiency.

In 2013, 6% of supply chain leaders said redesigning their transportation network was a concern. By the end of 2015, 72% said it was their number one concern. This rapid shift in priorities could be attributed to three reasons:

  1. Omni-Channel Shipping Challenges. Only 16% of retailers and CPG shippers say they maintain profitable omni-channel fulfillment. Omni-channel supply chains require new forms of inventory management and fast order fulfillment, both of which strain transportation efficiency.
  2. Capacity Constraints. Fulfilling the demands of omni-channel commerce can be unprofitable for carriers and a burden for drivers. CPG manufacturers want more resourceful and carrier-friendly routing so that carriers will work for them at a reasonable price.
  3. High Operating Costs. The increasing complexity of CPG supply chains leads to less efficient operations, which leads to higher costs. As with many companies, transportation is ripe with opportunities to cut costs and improve service levels – something CPG manufacturers are in desperate need of.
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Price Surge Coming: Lock in Low Transportation Rates Now

Posted by PLS Logistics May 17, 2016 at 11:30 AM

Transportation rates are near their lowest point and are expected to rise later this year. New forecasts predict rising contract and spot market rates caused by numerous economic and regulatory factors - which will create tough conditions for shippers to negotiate rates. Shippers who don’t lock down rates now could miss out on a great opportunity.  

Pricing Conditions are Great for Shippers – For Now

Larry Gross, a partner at freight transportation consultancy FTR, says, “We are now experiencing the first sustained period of favorable shipping conditions since 2009.”

Right now, and the next couple of months, are the best time for shippers to lock in low transportation rates. FTR’s latest Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) reveals just how good things are for shippers today. The most recent score, 4.7, released in February, shows a favorable environment.  When the SCI reports negative numbers, it represents an unfavorable environment. The index reported a 4.3 in January, which was up from 3.0 in December, -0.6 in November, and -3.1 in October.

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Climate Change Disruptions, Disasters and Preparedness in Transportation

Posted by PLS Logistics April 26, 2016 at 11:00 AM

Disruptions are Difficult to Manage

Businesses are woefully unprepared for disasters and disruptions in their supply chain. In fact, two-thirds of employees say their businesses have not reassessed safety and crisis plans since the last time they faced a natural disaster.Truck_in_flood_water.jpg

In the first half of 2014, the U.S. lost $50 billion in productivity due to natural disasters. Much of the disruption is from delayed or stopped transportation, which is particularly susceptible to poor weather conditions and natural disasters.

Some companies are reactive and agile during a disruption or disaster – using a transportation management system (TMS) to reroute freight in transit and schedule alternative modes for inventory on hand. But, most companies aren’t able to be proactive when disruptions occur, and many find it difficult to be reactive in these situations.

It is likely your company will be hurt by the next potential disruption in your supply chain. Often times, natural disasters and disruptions are unavoidable, and all you can do is limit the damage done to your supply chain.

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The Building Blocks of Transportation Visibility

Posted by PLS Logistics April 14, 2016 at 10:30 AM

Many businesses want to leverage big data in supply chain initiatives to drive efficiency, cost savings and unparalleled operational visibility. In order to do this, however, a business must have enterprise-wide infrastructure for information gathering. Only 35% of organizations use a transportation management system (TMS), meaning most companies do not have much visibility into shipping processes, but more importantly, don’t have access to data that’s part of the end to end supply chain insight that’s necessary for big data initiatives.

Use a TMS for Data Collection First

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Industrial Distributors Can Create Value With Transportation

Posted by PLS Admin March 8, 2016 at 10:30 AM

Industrial distributors are beginning to see the potential of proper transportation management, how it can add much needed value throughout their supply chain, and how it can address some of their toughest challenges. The challenges distributors face are unique, but the effects of these challenges are representative of the difficulties many are having in the broader industrial sector – restricted supply, plummeting demand, dropping revenues and out of control operating costs. 

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