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Category Archives: Warehousing

Utilizing Logistics Technology to Manage & Exceed Customer Expectations

We started our seven blog series on Logistics, Tech in Logistics, beginning with a blog on Managing the Dynamic Environment.

This blog is the second in the series (see below) and covers another important aspect in the logistics space.

With most logistic influencers clamoring for attention – from globalization to competitive markets – one unlikely contender suddenly rose to prominence as being one of the most significant performance indicators and a key differentiator of every logistics provider.

This interesting influencer is the customer!

The position of end customer and customer-centric organizations has been steadily rising in the list of top 10 priorities for every logistics provider.

Managing customer expectations and nurturing lasting relationships with their customer base is fast becoming a core focus of this landscape ensuring a distinct competitive advantage.

Interestingly, with the customer rising in prominence, the complexities of the relationship are also becoming exceedingly complex and demanding.

Customers have smartly realized their power, as is evident from their ever-increasing expectations and demands from the logistics ecosystem. What are these demands?

Let’s take a look.

The Ever-Growing List of Customer Expectations

Transparency and visibility across the ecosystem: The ability to track consignments from the placement of the order right up to delivery in real time is a common request. Track-and-trace involves having real-time information at your fingertips of the current status of consignments to the immediate intimation of unanticipated delays.

Time is money: This phrase has incredible relevance in the logistics ecosystem, with timeliness becoming a primary indicator of Perfect Order and a strong logistic differentiator. Logistics service providers are hence looking for solutions that will help them work in a time-bound manner.

Seamless, end-to-end process: The expectation of a smooth process from order to delivery and invoicing has become the norm. Customers comprehend the complexities of the landscape, yet expect the provider to manage these intricacies in the background. The emphasis on seamless logistics is hence challenging the entire network.

Managing disruptions in real time: Customers expect a foolproof plan with zero deviation in implementation, but in reality, logistics providers have to constantly battle to stay on plan. The possibility of things going wrong is quite high – from poor weather and vehicle breakdown to poor road conditions and change in route plan. Handling such sudden disruptions is one of the toughest challenges of the landscape.

On-the-go: Mobility-first approaches across verticals have placed a lot of importance on anytime anywhere access. From access to information to carrying out simple to complex tasks seamlessly across multiple channels – from mobiles to desktops – has highlighted hurdles in terms of efficient integration, version control, and other challenges.

Logistics companies are hence forced to look at options that will help them deliver a top-notch performance and unmatched customer experience, without compromising on cost.


The Magic of Technology

Yes, the customer wish list is long, but with the magic lamp of technology at their service, logistics providers are effectively meeting most the customer expectations.

Let’s look at a few examples.

Mobile-first access to the logistics network: Comprehensive mobile strategies go a long way in enabling a transparent logistics network and providing simple app-based interfaces to interact easily with the system for any type of information anytime from anywhere. This advantage certainly makes a huge difference in a world where ease of multi channel access and security are critical in ensuring customer satisfaction. The advent of Bots in Logistics Industry has raised the bar even higher.

Visibility and real-time track-and-trace: Knowing the exact status of their consignments in real time with minimal effort is crucial in building the customer’s confidence. If this feature includes the option to drill down extensively to dig out further information (such as projected time of arrival, consignment and transit information) through simple user interfaces, then it further cements a strong customer-provider relationship.

Robust systems to manage issues before or as they occur: An ideal system is so well oiled that there would never be any disruptions. But the reality is far from desirable. The entire route from point of origin to the very last mile has innumerable chances of unexpected delays and deviations. A technology-enabled, intuitive, and cognitive system can integrate embedded intelligence and data analytics to overcome this hurdle. This system automatically highlights possibilities of deviations and delivers data-based insights that will help the providers take well-informed decisions to overcome the disruption.

End-to-end platforms enabling a seamlessly integrated process: A smoothly flowing process that integrates not only multiple stages but also all stakeholders of the landscape is a key demand of customers. This demand can only be achieved by a process that delivers an easy process from request for quote to delivery. Such a well-orchestrated system closes all possible loopholes within the system and delivers accurate, consistent, and version-free information to every stakeholder – especially the customer.

Simplifying invoicing process: What scares most customers is not just the transit complications but also the painfully long order placement and billing process. Technology solutions such as sign-on-glass and combined invoices go a long way in generating POD with zero delays and immediately triggering the invoicing process.

Feeding the on-demand requests: It’s the fast food generation – where every aspect of living must be completed in a snap. This burden on the logistics world can be overcome by “Uberization” of the logistics landscape. Customized, on-demand sharing of transportation options are the most trending approaches logistics providers use to meet such sudden customer demands.

These indicators are a clear reflection of the power of the customer in today’s logistics landscape. The robust weapon of technology is the only solution for logistics providers to meet the ever-changing demand of the customers. But technology has a crucial buddy that simplifies all the complexities of the landscape – Data!

In our blog post “The Value of Real-Time Data Collection” we look at the importance of data – especially real-time data for the logistics network – and the options available to logistics providers to leverage data and solve the pain points of the system.

Tech in Logistics Blog Series

  1. Managing the Dynamic Environment
  2. Exceeding Customer Expectations
  3. The Value of Real-Time Data Collection
  4. Predictive Analytics for Decision Making in Logistics Management
  5. Importance of Data Enabled Visibility in Logistics
  6. Where’s Your Shipment Right Now?
  7. Automation in Logistics: Ideal or Attainable?

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Uberization of Logistics Has Arrived: Be Distinct or Extinct
In this white paper, we describe why logistics service providers need to deploy technology as a core competence and differentiator and with the use of technology how they can stay ahead of the competition; tackle Uberization and create value for their customers. Download Now!

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Real-Time Supply Chain Visibility & Connectivity

Through the rich integration of experienced supply chain professionals, world class technology, and customer insights, C.H. Robinson is reinventing global supply chains by making them more prescriptive, automated and efficient.

Navisphere Vision continues to advance the powerful and proven capabilities of C.H. Robinson’s proprietary Navisphere technology platform.

Microsoft, an innovator in fulfillment and logistics capabilities and a customer of C.H. Robinson’s TMC division, has been using Navisphere Vision since its alpha release in 2016.

“Navisphere Vision helps us understand the things that we couldn’t before. It provides the visualization that connects data and the real-time events that are happening within our supply chain,” said Alaina Hawkins, senior manager of global logistics at Microsoft.

Alaina Hawkins, senior manager of global logistics at Microsoft

“Navisphere Vision provides the visualization that connects data and the real-time events that are happening within our supply chain”Alaina Hawkins,
senior manager of global logistics at Microsoft

“Navisphere Vision helps us make decisions on a more precise, real-time level so we can address any challenges that might occur, react in a less randomized fashion, create predictability throughout our supply chain, and increase collaboration so we can deliver our products to customers on time. It’s tremendously powerful.”

In addition to providing real-time visibility down to an SKU level, Navisphere Vision delivers insights and impacts of potential disruptions from weather, traffic or current events, as well as predictive analytics to help shippers make better, faster decisions.

This next generation of real-time supply chain visibilityenables shippers to improve customer service and cost controls through the management of inventory in motion, proactive status updates, limiting disruptions and risk mitigation.

Shippers can gain a single view of all global inventory to support working capital needs and cash to cash cycle management. Access to real-time global visibility, combined with new supply chain insights, empowers shippers with new agility, accuracy and real-time decision-making to stay a step ahead of the competition.

“The industry has seen supply chain visibility tools before, but Navisphere Vision represents the next generation,” said Jordan Kass, president of TMC.

“Not only is it global, but Navisphere Vision goes far beyond visibility and helps our customers predict supply chain disruptions before they even occur.”

“This solution provides unique benefits for our customers. Its ability to serve all global regions across any transportation mode, as well as layering in potential disruptions, provides our customers with powerful data, insights, and opportunities to make changes quickly,” said Chad Lindbloom, chief information officer at C.H. Robinson.

“Navisphere Vision utilizes API technology to aggregate all other supply chain and information sources into one single location, giving our customers the most streamlined, real-time solution available. And it brings a new level of machine-learning and data science the supply chain industry hasn’t seen to date.”

Related: C.H. Robinson Improves Contract Carriers’ Access to its Technology Platform via Mobile App

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C.H. Robinson Acquires Milgram & Company Ltd., Expands Global Forwarding Network

“Today, we are bringing one of Canada’s most respected forwarding companies into C.H. Robinson,” said John Wiehoff, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of C.H. Robinson.

“This acquisition continues our global expansion and marks our third Global Forwarding acquisition in the past five years.”

“We are extremely proud of the progress we have made in bringing these companies into C.H. Robinson, and Milgram & Company Ltd. (“Milgram”) provides another unique opportunity to strengthen our global forwarding and customs brokerage offerings in Canada.”

“We look forward to working with Milgram’s customers to offer our full suite of logistics services to help improve their supply chains.”

John Wiehoff, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of C.H. Robinson

“This acquisition continues our global expansion and marks our third Global Forwarding acquisition in the past five years”John Wiehoff, Chairman and CEO of C.H. Robinson

Milgram is a leading provider of customs brokerage and freight forwarding, in addition to providing surface transportation and warehousing services, to 3,500 active customers.

Headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Milgram employs approximately 330 employees and has six offices in Canada and one office in the United States.

Milgram is a gold standard winner of Canada’s Best Managed Companies®. For the fiscal year ending May 31, 2017, Milgram had approximately $155.3 million CAD (approximately $124 million USD) in gross revenues.

C.H. Robinson purchased Milgram & Company Ltd. for approximately $62 million CAD (approximately $50 million USD) in cash. The acquisition is expected to be approximately neutral to earnings in 2017 and slightly accretive in 2018 and will be financed through cash and funds drawn from C.H. Robinson’s existing revolving credit facility.

“We are excited to build on our success providing supply chain expertise and execution, refining processes, and being an integral part of our customers’ businesses,” said Jay Goldman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Milgram & Company Ltd.

“We now look forward to collaborating with C.H. Robinson to grow our presence and provide our customers with the opportunity to leverage C.H. Robinson’s worldwide network and world-class service offerings.”

C.H. Robinson’s Global Forwarding business currently serves five continents and 31 countries, with over 4,000 employees and 125 offices worldwide, and is the #1 non-vessel operator (NVO) from China to the United States. Global Forwarding customers leverage C.H. Robinson’s considerable freight volumes to access available capacity at competitive rates.

“This acquisition strengthens our ability to continue to serve the world’s shippers and help them meet their global supply chain goals,” said Mike Short, President of C.H. Robinson’s Global Forwarding division.

“Milgram has built a successful business doing things the right way, serving customers, and exceeding their expectations. We look forward to bringing their talented team to C.H. Robinson.”

C.H. Robinson will integrate Milgram into its Global Forwarding division and single global technology platform, Navisphere®.

Related SC24/7 Article: Freight Forwarders Face ‘Significant Change from New E-Business Models’

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The Supply Chain Link Both Walmart & Amazon Are Missing – The ‘Perfect Order’

Fortune reported in February that Amazon captured 53 percent of retail e-commerce growth last year to net 43 percent of U.S. online revenue.

That research finding from Slice Intelligence, further revealed a key Amazon advantage: “The average Amazon package was delivered in 3.4 days, compared with 5.6 from everyone else.”

Online competition has led to hundreds of store closures by brick-and-mortar retailers, who continue to retool everything from in-store brand experience to mobile apps and overall e-commerce strategy.

More of their stores offer custom orders, better service to customers who place orders online through their own channels and even orders placed through Amazon.

For its part, Walmart has invested heavily in North American manufacturing, and forged alliances with Facebook, Uber and Lyft to test and expand options for mobile device-based grocery ordering and delivery.

Dr. Yossi Sheffi, Director, MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics

“Walmart will win the rapid (same-day) delivery game and beat Amazon ”Dr. Yossi Sheffi, MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics

As early as 2014, MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics’ Dr. Yossi Sheffi predicted that Walmart will win the rapid (same-day) delivery game and beat Amazon. One key reason: the brick-and-mortar giant’s thousands of “small warehouses – they’re called stores.”

Amazon is competing online and off. The company Amazon is operating several brick-and-mortar bookstores with more rollouts planned throughout the year.

Next up: grocery stores that eliminate check-out linesby using sensors to automatically charge shoppers as they pick products and walk out the door. Upstream in the supply chain, investments and/or plans range from warehouse robots to cargo planes and truck trailers to a 2016 patent on blimp-like Airborne Fulfillment Centers to launch drones.

The omnichannel line-blurring between traditional and online retailers will bring new technologies to the fore, but none will address problems both share in common: a lack of data visibility to more efficiently and effectively plan, produce, customize and deliver real products to real people. At present, most supply chains are lacking the critical functionality to do so.

What’s Missing? The ‘Perfect Order’
Upstream of the retailer (or e-tailer) are vast collections of brands, manufacturers, contract manufacturers/packagers, logistics firms and many more suppliers.

Leading brands long ago adopted enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, while their suppliers have largely failed to gain usable data in the warehouse management systems (WMS) they use to produce (and customize) products, resorting to oft-cobbled spreadsheet solutions.

Evolution of Supply Chain Management Solutions


Both ERP and WMS systems lack the specificity to properly manage major order execution and fulfillment in the age of mass customization, which increasingly entails manufacturing and packaging outsourcing.

Leading ERP systems are based on the time-honored SCOR Model for characterizing production operations. (APICS pros know the hierarchy well: Plan, Source Make, Deliver, Return; and make-to-stock, make-to-order, etc.) One sub-discipline called “perfect order” has been on the backburner, with proponents waiting for it to become a more practical reality.

One proponent, Dave Blanchard (of IndustryWeek and Material Handling & Logistics), stressed the importance of the perfect order concept as a metric to improve order execution and fulfillment in his book on supply chain best practices. In short, the concept is based on the percentage of error-free steps throughout the life of a purchase order – right product, right condition, delivered on time and damage free, and so on.

The problem is that ERP and WMS systems lack the functional specificity to track operational data at contract packaging and related outsourced locations. Without the right technology to fill the functional gaps, it’s impossible to measure and improve in order to become “more perfect.” SCOR to ongoing work at WERC, the Warehouse Education, and Research Council, we have hope for the further advancement of the perfect order discipline.

Steve Banker, Vice President, SCM at ARC Advisory Group

“The perfect order metric is one of the most critical metrics in fulfillment ”Steve Banker, Vice President, SCM at ARC Advisory Group

As the well-known consultant, Forbes contributor and deep thinker Steve Banker wrote in Logistics Viewpoints, the perfect order metric “is one of the most critical metrics in fulfillment,” and bears close attention.

Brands and their manufacturing and packaging outsourcing partners can use the specific features in solutions such as Nulogy’s PackManager to pursue perfect order-type metrics and key performance indicators.

Rather than target too many variables, experts advise users to start with a few key metrics such as on-time-in-full delivery, correct invoice, and damage-free rates to gain a foothold on optimal execution.

In addition to internal improvements, companies can then target greater integration with partners. When deployed across the operations of multiple supply chain partners, Nulogy says the goal becomes that of achieving a Perfect Order Network™.

The goal is to achieve a unified, collaborative enterprise for last-mile product customization with reductions in waste on a global scale for service to retailers and end-consumers.

The days are long gone when “brand” is synonymous with “manufacturer,” and the technology has advanced to the point where today, it is possible to create a transparent and extended enterprise capable of unifying brands and their last-mile service providers.

Without such integration, the kind of market velocity desired by the Amazons and Walmarts of the world will be hobbled by inefficiency. But when brands and their suppliers share the same data – a single source of the truth – new opportunities emerge.

Of course, new opportunities entail new challenges, including those of giving retailers – online and off – greater data visibility.

“Some large retailers have a far more demanding view of what a perfect order is,” Banker says, adding that “a manufacturer must now collaborate with its retail partners to ensure strong in-stock performance at the retail shelf, which ultimately leads to increased revenues and profits for both parties.”

About the Author
Bob Sperber
Bob joined Nulogy following 30 years of experience as a business, industry and technology media writer and editor. His work with media outlets and marketing clients have imparted in him a solid understanding of the changes, challenges, and opportunities relevant to many sectors of the global economy.

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Last-Mile Supply Chain Mastery: Is Your ERP Really Up for the Job?
This white paper details how 3pls, contract packagers, and corrugators are transforming last-mile logistics with specialist software-as-a-service applications. Download Now!

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HAZMAT Transportation Management

HAZMAT Transportation

HAZMAT transportation can be extremely dangerous for truck drivers which is why it typically pays at a higher rate.

To enforce regulations and promote the safety of HAZMAT transportation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducts over 154,000 annual roadside inspections, with an estimated 35,000 DOT HAZMAT violations reported.

That’s nearly 23 percent of inspections resulting in a violation!

Most Common HAZMAT Violations

  • No Copy of USDOT hazardous materials registration number (8.1 %)
  • Package not secure in vehicle (7.6 %)
  • Placard damaged, deteriorated or obscured (6.9 %)
  • Vehicle not placarded as required (5.9 %)
  • No Shipping papers (5.1 %)
  • Shipping paper accessibility (4.7 %)
  • Emergency response information missing (4.5 %)
  • Failure to provide carrier required placards (4.4 %)
  • Offering a hazardous material without preparing a shipping paper (3.0 %)
  • No placards or marking when required (2.9 %)

It’s important to note that owner operators and other drivers have a responsibility to validate that the HAZMAT shipment they’re transporting is compliant.

Download: Understanding Hazmat Transportation Management

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Study Finds Traditional Industrial Distributor Model Faces Mounting Risks

Asset-light e-marketplaces and other nontraditional shopping channels, combined with shifting demographics, are upending industrial distributors’ inventory-heavy model more rapidly than previously thought.

As a result, distributors must quickly adapt and address threats with everything from sharper mobile offerings to upgraded customer service, a new white paper from UPS shows.

According to the UPS Industrial Buying Dynamics Study: Buyers Raise the Bar for Suppliers, the biggest shift comes from millennials (defined for this study as those currently ages 21-34) who grew up in a digital era and are bringing their tech-savvy and nontraditional purchasing habits – for example, bypassing the middle man and working directly with the manufacturer – with them into the workplace.

The impact on the future of industrial products purchasing may be among the most profound of any modern generation of buyers and provide a glimpse of the future.

The report, the third such study compiled since 2013, captures a sector undergoing demand changes and channel shifts at a startling speed: 81 percent of buyers have purchased directly from manufacturers, up 64 percent from the 2015 report.

Read: The Five “New Rules” of e-Commerce Fulfillment

Meanwhile, 75 percent of buyers surveyed have shopped at an e-marketplace, soaring from just 20 percent in 2013.



What’s more, 80 percent of buyers are likely to shift to suppliers with a more user-friendly web presence, up from 72 percent two years ago.

“With e-commerce, industrial buyers can choose from numerous suppliers with the click of a button, leaving the traditional business-to-business distributor model threatened,” said Matthew Guffey, vice president of UPS segment marketing.

“Maintaining the status quo, even just for now, is not an effective solution. Distributors have to up their game.”

The paper identifies four main ways for distributors – including those with smaller ambitions or limited funds – to remain competitive and offers solutions to reach these young corporate buyers where and how they want to interact:

  • Recognize rising threats: It is imperative to consider strategic investments that bring services to parity with competitors. The paper found that more than half of respondents working primarily with distributors intend to increase e-marketplace spending, representing a looming risk to distributors.
  • Think digital: Online channels are a necessity and distributors need to strengthen e-commerce capabilities, particularly for mobile ordering. Thirty percent of corporate buyers use mobile channels to order industrial products, and 24 percent are “extremely likely” to do so in the future. Nearly half of all buyers – and 69 percent of millennials – indicated they would likely shift business to a distributor offering a mobile app.
  • Address buyers’ needs by product: Partnerships can help make businesses more competitive. Look into purchasing insurance on products and shipments to mitigate risk and to help protect and improve cash flow; leverage a logistics provider’s global network to ramp up service more quickly and reach more pockets of growth.
  • Go beyond the sale: Buyers want interaction beyond the sale (i.e. post-sales support), with half of respondents stating they would switch to a supplier offering assistance with returns, training and on-site maintenance or repairs. Thirty-six percent of millennials need services at least once per month, compared with just eight percent of Baby Boomers, according to the study.

UPS and TNS conducted the survey of 1,500 buyers of industrial products who are between the ages of 21 and 70 in the United States.

Respondents purchased industrial parts, products or supplies in five product categories: equipment sold in a business-to-business transaction; final assembly OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts; MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) parts; consumables/raw materials – input items used in a manufacturing process; and janitorial and sanitation.

Participants came from companies of all sizes, with roughly one-third reporting annual revenue of $1 million; one-third reporting between $1 million and $10 million; and one-third reporting more than $10 million.

Study Buying Policies
Buyers report being constrained in their purchasing roles. They may have to choose from a specific list of suppliers, or from a certain selection of products, as shown below.

Download the White Paper: UPS Industrial Buying Dynamics Study

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Modernizing Supply Chains Critical to Operational Efficiencies & Global Competitiveness

Every dollar and every minute businesses spend on the supply chain helps make every link in that supply chain more durable.

That was the message from U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohueat a recent confab of supply chain experts in Washington on May 27.

“It is time to build tomorrow’s networks today,” Donohue told more than 100 officials.

“Everything we’re doing in technology, business and trade is all about the supply chain,” Donohue said.

“The supply chain is a major artery of our economy,” Donohue said.

“Most of the products we use daily from cars to phones are made from components of multiple countries.”

Donohue said people often take a too narrow view of supply chains.

Instead of just the movement of goods, it also means far more.

Thomas J. Donohue

“Everything we’re doing in technology, business and trade is all about the supply chain”U.S. Chamber President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue

“Supply chain is also the movement of money, finance and people,” Donohue added.

Toward that end, Donohue urged the Trump administration to “Do No Harm” to the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement.

“Amend it,” Donohue said, then adding, “Don’t end it.”

Donohue and others spoke at the U.S. Chamber’s fifth annual Global Supply Chain Summit on May 17.

Juan Perez, chief information and engineering officer at UPS, said information security is vital to supply chains everywhere.

“Supply chains are so reliant on technology,” he said.

“Information security is top of mind in everything we do.”

Technology will continue to drive changes in the supply chain, Perez said.

He said all companies, including UPS, are essentially technology companies sometimes disguised in other elements of industry.

“Never in the history of commerce have we had more powerful machines at our disposal,” Perez said.

Juan Perez, chief information and engineering officer at UPS

“Never in the history of commerce have we had more powerful machines at our disposal”Juan Perez, chief information and engineering officer at UPS

Toward that end, Perez disclosed that UPS expects to be using driverless trucks within the next five years.

And he said he expects autonomous vehicles to be “standard operating procedure” with 10 to 15 years.

And it’s possible drones could be used for deliveries in remote locations, Perez said.

“It’s going to make us better – and faster,” he said.

But increased security requirements in the post-9/11 environment can impede those supply chain improvements.

But a top government transportation security official said the goal is to add technology to help move goods and people more safely through the system.

Rod Allison, acting deputy administrator for the Transportation Security Administration, said TSA “can’t do this alone” and called on transport companies to cooperate in a collaborative manner to keep the nation’s transport space secure.

“It’s a team sport,” Allison said.

Toward that end, TSA is pushing to a system that is “more transparent and more coordinated” that currently employed.

“We are mindful that any disruption can have a worldwide impact,” Allison said.

Rod Allison, acting deputy administrator for the Transportation Security Administration

“We are mindful that any disruption can have a worldwide impact”Rod Allison, acting deputy administrator for the TSA

He said TSA is committed to engaging more with industry to keep the agency in coordination with industry.

“In the past the agency has been a little reluctant to change,” said Allison, a 15-year TSA veteran.

“We need not work at cross purposes,” Allison said.

“Only by working in concert (with industry) can we build tomorrow’s networks today.”

Jane Holl Lute, CEO of SICPA North America and former deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said there is “a global cyber awakening” as the online world adds new demands to the supply chain.

“Governments are struggling with these expectations,” Lute said.

“It all pivots around the word trust.”

Judith Marks, CEO of Siemens USA, said infrastructure is the “core” of who we are as Americans. Siemens operates 60 U.S. manufacturing centers.

“We can’t do that without a competitive U.S. supply chain,” Marks said.

Judith Marks, CEO of Siemens USA

“infrastructure is the ‘core’ of who we are as Americans”Judith Marks, Chief Executive Officer, Siemens USA

Siemens uses 36,000 suppliers, with 5 million purchasing orders a year with 8 million invoices a year.

“To us, we have to leverage infrastructure,” she said. “We want to build more here – and export more as well.”

“The global supply chain is changing as fast as ever,” said Tobin Moore, CEO and co-founder of Optoro, a company specializing in reverse logistics, the science of managing return goods.

“People want things now. The supply chain is getting ever more complex.”

He said there is enormous waste in return merchandise, which often ends up in landfills or sold for pennies on the dollar.

More than 4 billion pounds of return goods ended up in landfills last year, Moore said.

“We want to move forward in sustainable commerce,” Moore said.

Lionel van der Walt, president of Cargo Network Services, which works with air cargo companies, said his industry is somewhat stuck in the past.

“Unfortunately, we have some players who are stuck in the paper-based processes driven by outdated government regulations,” he said.

Shift from Traditional Supply Chain to Digital Supply Network

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Mobile Computers Role in the Warehouse Data Web

Because lift trucks were not historically known for their brains, mobile computer terminals have been used to bring warehouse intelligence to the operator.

Lately, as lift trucks become more connected and computerized, they are changing the patterns of how and where data moves through a facility, its devices and its equipment.

There is massive potential for operational improvements from connecting telematics, warehouse execution, labor management and more.

But, if you imagine each thread of communication as a string, many operations look more like spaghetti than a neatly woven braid.

Mike Maris, Senior Director of Transportation and Logistics, Zebra Technologies

“The key is to establish one central point of conversation or data transmission.”Mike Maris,
Senior Director of Transportation and Logistics, Zebra Technologies

“There seems to be a lot of technology all around in the warehouse, but not a lot of it is integrated,” says Mike Maris senior director of transportation and logistics at Zebra Technologies. “The key is to establish one central point of conversation or data transmission.”

It’s important to know if a given forklift is running hot, needs oil or has any leaks, but today that truck is trying to communicate through fixed or wireless connection to a central maintenance resource in the warehouse.

The natural progression, Maris says, is to have the lift truck communicate with the mobile computer mounted on it, to work together as one point of communication between operator, manager and all related systems.

“People hear the term Internet of Things and either have a lot of preconceived notions about what that means or no clue whatsoever. I see IoT coming together at the mobile computer, so the lift truck itself can communicate to broader systems, instead of a dedicated portal from the lift truck.”

Rugged, touchscreen computers are not just a way to receive instructions, it’s a window into virtually countless potential data streams. One screen can direct an operator for tasks like let-down, putaway, or picking, and also present telematics and maintenance information that’s relevant to the operator or to a technician.

Push-to-talk or VoIP capabilities can support communication within or between facilities. Real-time maps might help an operator navigate more efficiently and could display stop signs or other traffic warnings. A central hub could prove most useful to a manager trying to make sense of all the information.

Maris says:

“The question is how to take all these analytics—the telematics on the lift truck, the warehouse management system (WMS), the yard management system—and boil it all down to really understand in a small packet what you need to know and what you don’t.”

“Analytics engines will be a big part of what you see in a warehouse, across forklifts and even pallet jacks.” Maris notes ongoing efforts to work with software and WMS players to make use of mobile equipment integrated with the truck.

“If the WMS knows three or four forklifts are already in an aisle, it could reorder work priority. It knows the aisle will get jammed if it adds two more forklifts, so it will send them to other tasks. That is where we will see that next 10% to 15% productivity improvement. Software folks realize that and are working hard to get to that point, and we’re trying to get them the hardware to do that.”

Related White Papers

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The Hidden Costs Of Using Consumer-Grade Mobile Technology
Companies are increasingly turning to mobile technology to help drive the next level of productivity, efficiency and service in their organizations. Download Now!

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Addressing Productivity Barriers in the Warehouse
Most warehouses are already utilizing mobile devices in the warehouse aisles to improve productivity and accuracy from picking to shipping. With warehouses already reaping the maximum benefits out of their mobility solutions, what can warehouse managers do to obtain the needed increase in productivity? Download Now!

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Building the Smarter Warehouse: Warehousing 2020
Redefining Supply Chain Automation in the Age of Digital Technology: North America Report – The online survey asked IT and operations personnel in the manufacturing, retail, transportation and wholesale market segments to share their insights and business plans over the next five years, in light of a rapidly changing industry. Download Now!

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Making the Shipping & Logistics Industry Smarter

Intel announced the launch of the Intel Connected Logistics Platform (Intel CLP).

The platform gives companies unprecedented levels of insight into the status of assets during their journey through the supply chain, allowing them to make intelligent, real-time decisions that can minimize loss or spoilage of freight, maximize asset utilization, and optimize end-to-end supply chain operations.

Intel’s announcement was made in conjunction with Honeywell unveiling its Connected Freight solution – based on Intel’s Connected Logistics Platform.

Researchers report that 89 percent of logistics and shipment service providers believe a lack of visibility into the status of their supply chain is one of the biggest challenges they face today.(1)

Estimates put the annual worldwide financial impact from cargo loss at about $60 billion in 2016.(2)

Studies also show 30 percent of all perishable goods spoil before reaching their destination. The impact is enormous, both globally and within an individual company’s supply chain.(3)

Intel CLP is designed to solve these pain points.

Taking advantage of a scalable Internet of Things architectureHoneywell’s Connected Freight solution featuring Intel CLP consists of cost-effective sensors that can be attached to packages or individual assets.

These sensors communicate wirelessly with a cellular- or Wi-Fi-enabled gateway that can travel with the shipment or be installed as fixed infrastructure.

Honeywell’s Connected Freight solution can provide real-time status updates of each shipment’s location, temperature, humidity, shock, vibration, tilt, pressure, proximity and exposure to light.

Logistics service providers and shippers can use the platform’s alerts to make real-time decisions that can reduce operational costs, maximize utilization of associated assets, as well as increase service levels to customers.

Highly granular data can also assist companies in planning and predicting future operations to proactively avoid problems and greatly improve overall supply chain efficiency.

The data gathered and communicated en route by smart and connected shipments will help industries not just track goods, but also improve business decisions like rerouting if demand shifts or intercepting a damaged shipment.

By analyzing data from thousands of shipments, logistics service providers will be able to predict and avoid routes where damage or delays are likely, establishing a more reliable distribution network.

Honeywell’s Connected Freight solution featuring the new Intel CLP is available for logistics providers. For more information on the Intel Connected Logistics Platform, read the solution brief.

Jabil SCM Report 2015
Australian Institute of Criminology, The Detention and Prevention of Cargo Theft, September, 2001
3 European Space Agency (ESA), “RTICM – Real-Time Intelligent Cargo Monitoring,” 2014

Download the Research Brief: How Technology Can Improve Operations

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How Does Your Supply Chain Resilience Rank?

The Year 2016 Was Wrought With Challenges Across The Globe

Hurricanes, earthquakes, terror and political upheaval all took a toll.

In addition, three emerging drivers of resilience have come to the forefront in recent years that are now included in the 2017 FM Global Resilience Index: the rate of urbanization, inherent cyber risk and supply chain visibility.

Resilience against events that could disrupt operations is a top priority for business executives seeking to minimize risk and maximize performance across their operations.

The ability of businesses to overcome disruptions throughout the world can make all the difference.

The FM Global Resilience Index is an annual ranking of 130 countries and territories according to their enterprise resilience to disruptive events.

Rankings are calculated as an equally weighted composite of 12 core drivers that affect the enterprise resilience of countries significantly and directly.

The historical data in this year’s index has been updated and calculated on this new basis for each of the last five years to enable valid historic comparison.

Here are the key results.

2017 Key Resluts
Switzerland occupies the top position in the 2017 FM Global Resilience Index. This reflects the fact that Switzerland is among the best in the world for its infrastructure and local suppliers, its political stability, control of corruption and economic productivity.

Luxembourg has risen gradually from eighth in 2013 to second in 2017, owing partly to its reduced reliance on oil for economic productivity. This reflects the continued growth in the importance of its services sector. Luxembourg enjoys a strong reputation for its financial sector, its network of service providers and its responsive, business-friendly regulations.

The country is well-placed to benefit from financial institutions that may be seeking a new home, post-Brexit, following the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.

The lowest-ranking country in the index is Haiti, which is among the poorest countries in the world. Ranked second to last, Venezuela is hampered by exposure to wind and earthquake, perception of extensive corruption, poor infrastructure and ill-perceived local supplier quality.

Inherent cyber risk can have a tremendous influence on enterprise resilience and is a driver added to the 2017 index. It combines equally a country’s vulnerability to cyber attack with the country’s ability to recover from such an attack.

In general, countries ranking high in internet penetration and low in civil liberties rank lowest for cyber risk. Middle Eastern countries have a particularly high exposure to cyber risk. In fact, the four countries ranking lowest in the index for inherent cyber risk are Saudi Arabia (ranked 56), Bahrain (ranked 44), United Arab Emirates (ranked 32) and Qatar (ranked 13).

The 2011 floods in Thailand brought the flooding problem prominently to global attention, but the disruption it causes to business operations is a continuing occurrence.

The six Asian countries in the FM Global Resilience Index that have the largest area devoted to economic activities exposed to riverine flood are Pakistan (ranked 125), Laos (ranked 113), Bangladesh (ranked 111), Thailand (ranked 97), Vietnam (ranked 95) and China (ranked 68, 72, 66).

Urbanization rate is related often to the toll taken by natural hazards and is a driver of resilience newly added to this year’s index. Countries in the index with significant flood exposure and high urbanization rates include Bangladesh (ranked 111), Thailand (ranked 97), Vietnam (ranked 95), China (ranked 68, 72, 66) and India(ranked 60).

These major global manufacturing hubs are susceptible to flooding, so the potential for severe disruption across business operations and global supply chains is considerable.

Supply chain visibility, another new driver within the index, is the ability to track and trace consignments across a country’s supply chain. Vietnam (ranked 95), with its thriving manufacturing sector increasingly important to the global supply chain, dropped eight places in the index since last year, owing primarily to poorer supply chain visibility.

Now, with years of data based on the FM Global Resilience Index algorithm, a noticeable level of consistency can be seen in terms of country rankings around the world. Countries at the top or bottom of the index tend to retain their status.

However, new risks that affect a country may emerge and FM Global will monitor these continually to provide the most accurate assessments of enterprise resilience for its clients and organizations around the world.

Sources of enterprise risk abound, but with pertinent information and thoughtful planning, many of these risks can be identified and their adverse impacts mitigated.

The 2017 FM Global Resilience Index combines the core drivers of enterprise resilience to disruptive events across countries in a single index.

Enterprise resilience is about minimizing vulnerability to disaster and boosting the ability to recover from it. Strengthening resilience to disruptive events brings economic and social benefits to citizens, corporations, industries and governments around the world.

FM Global hopes that the 2017 FM Global Resilience Index may even go so far as to help address the United Nation’s concern that, “there is little evidence that the risk information produced is really informing development or disaster risk reduction.”

For those willing to embrace its numerous implications, the index serves as a public resource to highlight strengths and vulnerabilities in enterprise resilience across the world and facilitate informed decision-making in strategic risk management.

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