Archive for ‘Transportation’

Cross-docking: In One Door and Out the Other

Saturday, April 28th, 2018

Cross-docking

If you’re not cross-docking, you’re missing an opportunity to gain a fully optimized supply chain. Cross-docking services streamline your distribution process, reduce risk in inventory handling and lower your costs. It works by skipping the warehouse to unload products from inbound shipments and reload directly onto another outbound shipment. Utilizing this distribution method, a third-party logistics provider (3PL) can streamline your distribution process and limit the need for contracting with multiple vendors to move your goods.

Commonly confused with cross-docking, transloading is a similar service that shippers utilize. With transloading, your distribution center transfers your product from one mode of transportation to another. Though the service is different than transloading, cross-docking accomplishes the same the goal – to improve efficiencies in your supply chain.

Efficiency
Like a synchronized orchestra, the cross-docking process relies on flawless execution to move products in and out of the dock. As there is little to no time where your inventory is warehoused, your products keep moving and shipping times are greatly reduced.

Inventory management
Cross-docking facilitates the growing need to limit manufacturing yet be quick to ship in order to meet customer demands. Plus, inventory is less at risk for damage when it see minimal storage and handling. When you’re in control of your inventory, yet agile in your manufacturing, that’s a win for your business.

Financial impact
The deep efficiencies innate in the system, as well as the savings from bypassing the warehouse, reduce overall costs of moving your goods from manufacturer to consumer.

Cross-docking is an effective logistics strategy because it relies on precise planning and execution. Quality control and inventory tracking are all the more crucial to ensure the benefits of the service are being fully realized. With conflicting demands to navigate through, cross-docking offers manufacturers and shippers a valuable tool in solving the supply chain optimization challenge.


Hope on the Homefront for Port of Portland

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

Hope on the Homefront at Port of Portland

The marine facilities at our hometown of Portland, OR offer advantages over other Pacific NW ports because of access and proximity to major markets as well as having the only rivergrade interstate highway and rail routes to the interior. Further, the port is served by efficient and modern rail lines.

Terminal 6

Despite the benefits of its location, the Port of Portland is no stranger to the industry-wide challenges facing transporters, manufacturers and supply chain professionals. The port has undergone tremendous change and controversy in the last few years. Unlike others, Terminal 6 is publicly owned by the state and is competing directly with commercially-run entities.

The port has resolved some of the most disruptive problems, particularly the temporary shut down at T6, but many are questioning the direction. After an evaluation by a consultant, the Port of Portland was encouraged to diversify at T6. The multi-use plan recommendation would include a variety of pass-through options such as multi-modal, breakbulk, cars, etc.

Full steam ahead

Introducing rail service back at T6 this past January through a partnership with BNSF Railway was a positive move for the port. Shippers can now move goods through Puget Sound to their final destination overseas. But this doesn’t put us in the clear. Currently, T6 is a holding ground for intermodal transportation. As with the driver shortage, the port is experiencing a container shortage.

Shortages, shortages, shortages

The port is reportedly running out of room for Tacoma containers entering the facilities. The effect is increased back-orders for retailers and suppliers. The containers go right back out as the supply is not keeping up with the demand. The Chinese New Year, an important time of celebration across the ocean, creates a shut down for 2-3 weeks. This yearly activity exacerbates the situation, creating a shortage in China and an abundance of containers state-side. Shippers must wait it out until those containers make there way back across seas at the end of the celebration.

With both labor and equipment in short supply, shippers are being forced to forecast out further. With 2-3 day wait times, shippers should plan on ordering more stock to ensure they have the necessary inventory quantities on hand. The lead time getting a container to warehouse is increased as well.

Economic impact on Oregon

Here in Oregon, we’re feeling the effects. Costs are increasing along with demands that aren’t being met. Those changes are impacting our economy as well.

“A full one-third of Oregon’s economy is based on goods movement dependent industries, with as many as 93,000 U.S. jobs being supported by the goods that move in and out of Oregon. Experts estimate it’s a $300 billion economic impact of imports and exports that move around and through our state.” (Capital Press, 2018)

Here at American Warehouse we’re keeping an eye on costs and maximizing our transportation connections to provide value to our customers. We’re hopeful the positive changes happening at T6 and the innovation throughout the industry will put us all back on track.

Column: Dear Port of Portland: Please diversify. (2018, February 16). Retrieved March 21, 2018, from http://www.capitalpress.com/Opinion/Columns/20180216/column-dear-port-of-portland-please-diversify


Transportation Capacity Nearly Maxed Out

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

Transportation Capacity Nearly Maxed Out

Last month, we touched on the challenges faced by the global transportation industry. By land and by sea, logistics professionals are being called upon to provide solutions to meet consumer demands. One of the many opportunities ripe for resolution nationally is the truck driver shortage. As consumers expect more for less, we here at American Warehouse have experienced the effects first-hand.

“As the U.S. population grows and the economy increases with it, we will see continued gains in demand for freight transportation,” says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. (McNally, 2017)

Maxed out

Consumer trends, like ecommerce and the Amazon-effect, are causing the transportation industry to max out. In FTR’s recent Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) report, they state that they expect “the index to remain elevated and even increase further in 2018.” However, the supply required to meet those needs is coming up short.

ELD mandate

On April 1, a new mandate takes effect that will require truckers to use an electronic logging device (ELD) in lieu of a paper record of their hours and routes. The intention behind the new regulations is safety on the roads, though critics believe the new law is misguided. Some feel the mandates limits the flexibility required get the job done. Many industries have fought for an exemption, and won, and some states are even looking to block enforcement of the mandates. For those in compliance, transportation times and costs are expected to rise.

Driver shortage

Though the ELD mandate is adding to the transportation industry’s troubles, one of the most pressing challenges is the driver shortage. Trends show that as the economy improves and the demand for trucking rises with it, the workforce it needs most turns to more desirable or lucrative career paths. Recruiters often find themselves competing with the manufacturing or construction industries to keep or bring on a new hire. Though needing to source non-traditional demographics, the younger generations are not particularly attracted to the difficult lifestyle. Further, the demand to lower shipment costs does not support the need to offer more attractive compensation packages. Many logistics companies are turning to other benefits like offering LTL shipment transportation so to limit nights away from home.

What this means for carriers, manufacturers, and third party logistics service providers is that for now: rates will rise, trucks will be harder to obtain and shipment delays will occur. But don’t despair, solutions are in the works.

Tech and labor management

Some innovators are tackling the problem with technology. The same man who launched a Tesla into space with a BFR, is working towards a solution. Though self-driving trucks are still years away, progress is being made to alleviate the strain. In turn, launching a fleet of autonomous trucks will create desirable jobs in mechanics and engineering.

Here in Portland, the start-up Fleet is working to simplify the supply chain by consolidating providers into one system. The technology will help small and mid-sized businesses with exporting and importing products around the globe. Fleet hopes to help minimize waste in the transportation process, saving shippers time and money.

Transportation employers have a few options as well – retention and recruiting outside of their typical demographic. Truckers have options so employers will do well by engaging in proactive retention efforts. Though the ability to reward by monetary compensation is somewhat limited, they are finding additional ways to remain attractive to their drivers and new recruits alike. Scheduling routes that allow the driver to be home at night is one benefit being offered as an incentive.

Shippers are trying to keep up with competing priorities and demands as the market hits them from all angles. As demands rise and resources tighten, logistics professionals are challenged to crack the code. Shippers must balance building the workforce to fulfill demands, create efficiency in the supply chain, and minimize costs. And we always remember to thank our truck drivers.

To learn more about how American Warehouse can help you solve your logistical challenges, contact us today!

McNally, Sean. ATA – ATA Forecasts Continued Growth for Trucking and Freight Economy, 17 July 2017, www.trucking.org/article/ATA-Forecasts-Continued-Growth-for-Trucking-and-Freight-Economy.


Partner Spotlight: Knickerbockers American Manufacturing

Monday, February 12th, 2018

Knickerbocker Bed FramesKnickerbocker, an American manufacturer of high-quality bed frames and bedding support systems, has been family-owned and operated for 100 years. Brothers Jacob and Lazar are 4th generation operators of the family business. They accredit their success to innovative, patented products, quality of craftsmanship and customer service. They are also the only bed frame manufacturer that still manufacturers all their products here in the USA.

When it comes a bed frame, Jacob recognizes that it’s not an item that people think about too often; “it’s usually when they stub their toe, or it breaks.” Few realize the importance of how a foundation affects the quality and performance of their mattress set. By providing innovative bedding support products, Knickerbocker has redefined the category to provide their customers with the lasting support they need.

Knickerbocker manufacturers all of their products in their New Jersey facility, but sells to mattress and furniture stores throughout the United States. Their products travel by rail freight to various distribution centers across the country.

Their supply chain network spans far and wide, but reaching some of their customers proved a challenge. In particular, the distance from their Texas distribution center to their Pacific Northwest customers put them at a disadvantage to serve retailers in Oregon and Washington. After hearing from their customers along the west coast that they required next-day service, Knickerbocker sought out a west coast logistics partner.

When Knickerbocker met with American Warehouse, it was an instant connection. According to Jacob, he found an organized and diligent staff at American Warehouse. With accurate inbound and outbound tracking, they felt assured their deliveries would be accurate and on-time. American Warehouse understood Knickerbocker’s business needs and quickly became a valuable extension of the team. As a result of the partnership and their presence in the northwest, orders in Oregon, Washington and Idaho are up 100%. Expanding their network of logistics support with another regional warehouse allowed Knickerbocker to better serve its customers, and with it generated a significant increase in orders.

Wishing to respond to customer demands, Knickerbocker set out to find a warehousing and distribution partner in the Pacific Northwest. Finding the right solution in American Warehouse, has allowed them to better serve retailers while reducing the worry associated with expanding the supply chain, and growing their business as a result.

To learn more about how American Warehouse can help you solve your logistical challenges, contact us today!


The Perfect Storm in Global Shipping

Saturday, January 27th, 2018

Transportation Perfect Storm

The global logistics shipping industry, from domestic trucking to international air and ocean transportation, is experiencing a whirlwind of upheaval and change. Driven by the political climate, changing consumer demands and labor shortages, manufacturers and shippers are being called on to solve unprecedented challenges all while rates are down and service demands are increasing. With global shipping becoming increasingly difficult to navigate, logistics professionals will have mountains to overcome in the coming years.

While NAFTA negotiations continue to loom over our heads, people in and outside of the transportation industry are fearful of the impact. The loss of trade benefits could be devastating, should the United States pull out of the deal. It’s a similar situation with potential trade tariffs for China and Brexit in the works. It’s yet unclear how the shifts in trade agreements will affect the global economy and shipping industry.

Already affecting the industry: ecommerce. Merchants selling online are generating more sales, but increased business creates challenges in consumer demands and logistics. Ecomm shoppers want faster and cheaper – if not free – delivery. And they expect it to be an experience. Further, the state of the global shipping industry will greatly impact our ability to trade and ship from manufacturers outside of the United States.

On the national front, the United States is experiencing a trucking crisis with a driver shortage. The effects are already being felt, with delivery delays and higher costs to transport. Driverless cars and trucks are on their way but technologists don’t agree on how quickly that day will come.

Commerce flowing in and out of our homebase in Portland has also been impacted by the struggles experienced at the Port of Portland. With the existence of 2000 TEU carriers, and a number of other factors, the Port of has been unsuccessful in attracting ocean freight carriers. The port has shifted its focus to a mixed-use model in order to serve a more diversified client base. To move products overseas, the Port has partnered with BNSF Railway to transport goods north to Seattle-Tacoma to be shipped overseas.

By air, water or land, the transport of goods is crucial to our economy and way of life. Transporters are being challenged in the current environment and where it will turn is yet to be seen. Despite the mounting challenges in the transportation industry, there’s enormous opportunity for innovation and growth. Those who adapt to the changes will come out on top.

American Warehouse can help navigate your logistics, contact us today to learn more!


Transloading Eases Distribution Pain

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

Transloading

Transloading services offer a quick and cost-effective solution to a trucker’s worst nightmares. Whether you’re in a pinch to store a truck-load for a day, or have missed a delivery appointment, transloading can get you back on track.

If your shipment requires intermodal transportation, transloading offers a solution for nearly every distribution problem. From port to last-mile and anything in between. You can utilize a trusted service provider to move products from ocean or rail container to dry van, re-load an ocean or rail container, or even move pallets around to better balance the load.

The need for this service has increased exponentially with the rise of ecommerce. Distribution centers have been called on to receive and stock larger inventories as imports from the ports continue to rise. Goods are then transloaded to trucks for final distribution. The insurgence is not expected to slow down, making it an invaluable tool in the transporter’s toolbox.

Benefits of transloading:

  • Cost-effective: saves on inventory storage costs
  • Flexibility: ensures shipments are moved with the most effective mode of transportation
  • Dependability: reduces errors and lost shipments

A similar service that is highly utilized is crossdocking. Crossdocking is distinctly different in that shipments are directly transferred from truck to truck, never entering a storage facility. They are often staged at the dock for reload. Though the service is different than transloading, crossdocking accomplishes the same the goal – to improve efficiencies in the supply chain.

Top shippers and supply chain managers are utilizing transloading to optimize their distribution strategy. If you’re looking to cut costs and increase efficiencies, transloading can ease your distribution pain.

American Warehouse is your outbound logistics service provider, contact us today!


Choosing the Optimal Outbound Logistics Solution

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Outbound logistics

Outbound logistics is the process of storing inventory and transporting the merchandise to the customer. There are process efficiencies at each end of the equation that when optimized, enhance your processes and service to the customer. Improving your outbound logistics strategy will increase your profitability and help you grow your business.

Inventory Management

Supply chain trends are forcing manufacturers to adjust to the changing demands of consumers. The need to control inventory levels and distribution is at an all-time high. Logistics professionals are responding by utilizing new processes and technology to increase inventory visibility, allowing for data-driven decision making.

At American Warehouse, we use 3PL Central‘s warehouse management system (WMS) to store and track your assets from the time they reach our dock, to the time they ship out. This value-added service streamlines the inventory management process for you. With cloud-based access you can always get accurate, real-time visibility to your products.

With the right inventory management software and strategy in place, you have the data you need for accurate forecasting and inventory planning. When combined with frequent cycle counting, you can eliminate the need for fiscal year end inventory counts. Plus, when you use a WMS, you can invoice customers immediately – saving you administrative costs. The commitment to forecasting and supply chain planning ensures you can deliver on your promises.

Transportation

Moving your goods from manufacturing to the hands of the customer is one of the most complicated logistical challenges. Your options are limitless. Some manufacturers may operate their own fleet, some work with a 3PL, while others may work through a broker. Each approach has unique benefits and risks.

For a lot of manufacturers, maintaining their own transportation fleet isn’t feasible or cost effective. Instead they turn to outside professionals to move their product. On the other end of the spectrum, some hire a broker to manage the supply chain process. Your broker will charge a premium, but you’ll only have to make one hire. They take care of the vendor management.

At American Warehouse, we use the hybrid approach that works best for our customers. While we focus on what we do best – warehousing and distribution – we hire through a trusted network of providers for our customers’ transportation needs. By partnering with transportation providers, we can decrease your freight expenses and give your product a safe and comfortable ride to its final destination.

When considering the optimal solution for your business, also keep in mind the reputation of the company, the level of service you will receive and any regional transportation needs. Choosing the right solution and support can make all the difference in the success of your outbound logistics planning.

American Warehouse is your outbound logistics service provider, contact us today!


Partner Spotlight: Samuel Strapping Expands West

Monday, September 18th, 2017

Case study - Samuel Strapping

Samuel Strapping Systems is a single source supplier for packaging and unitizing products and machinery operating in the eastern US and Canada. Their systems and equipment have applications across a broad spectrum of industries, including lumber, brick, cotton and fibre, steel, can and bottle, corrugated, newsprint, and more.

As their customer base in the Pacific NW grew, so did the need to house their products in a regional warehouse. Shipping their commercial strapping products directly to consumers from manufacturing facilities located in Ohio and South Carolina was inefficient and costly. To cut down on freight costs and lead times, Samuel Strapping made the decision to send truckloads to be housed at American Warehouse, located in Portland, OR.

Samuel Strapping got in touch with American Warehouse to test the west coast market for the lumber division specifically. Due to the central location, the warehouse gave many of Samuel Strapping’s customers the ability to pick up their order instead of having a carrier deliver it to them, saving additional freight costs. Further, it’s proximity to their large customer base in Washington means delivery times are reduced to a day or less.

“We cut our freight cost by sending truckloads of products out west versus multiple LTL shipments.”
– Art Pledger, Warehouse Manager – PSG

After choosing American Warehouse as their west coast logistics partner, they had some additional decisions to make. While moving products to a regional warehouse allowed for efficiency and cost savings, it also required advanced planning. They faced the challenge of determining the correct product mix and inventory levels to keep on-hand to satisfy customer demand while also ensuring they had the products needed for new customers.

Fortunately, American Warehouse’s add-on services solved the additional challenge. Utilizing their web-based Warehouse Management System (WMS) allows Samuel Strapping to view all inbound and outbound movements of their products. Art Pledger, Warehouse Manager, says, “We can view our on-hand inventory in their system and compare to our ERP system for accuracy and investigate should there be any discrepancies. Having the ability to do this allows us to service our customers in a timely manner because we know immediately if we have the products they need.” They’ve also found that when their customers have visibility and have trust in the low lead times, they tend to order more often.

Samuel Strapping recognized a business need and in working with a valued partner, they were able to solve a logistics challenge for their organization. Their move out west has allowed them to better serve the lumber market by lowering lead times, reducing costs and ensuring product availability. With that proven success, Samuel Strapping is looking to make the move with additional divisions to further increase their west coast footprint. Together with American Warehouse, Samuel Strapping has benefitted their business and increased value for their customers.

To learn more about how American Warehouse can help you solve your logistical challenges, contact us today!


Pricing a Third Party Logistics Provider

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Pricing a 3PL

Hiring an outside vendor for transportation management is an exercise in trust and is an important business decision. A great 3PL acts as an extension of your supply chain team. The procurement process can feel daunting. Ensure that you’re in control of the process by educating yourself on standard practices of 3PL pricing.

There are three main services provided by a 3PL, including inbound processing, warehousing and outbound processing. It is essential to understand how your 3PL partner quotes their services and where any hidden fees or charges may threaten your budget. Acquiring accurate and comparative quotes will ensure you’re getting the right partner to fit your budget.

American Warehouse is here to help – no matter who you choose to partner with. This pricing guide will give you the knowledge and tools to attain an accurate and consistent quote from any third party logistics provider – allowing you to make a sound business decision on who to partner with on your logistics needs.

Understand 3PL pricing >>


Cass Report Says 2014 was Best Year in the Last Seven Years

Friday, January 30th, 2015

 

Freight transportation increase

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor – Logistics Management
January 15, 2015

Even with nearly matching declines in freight shipments and expenditures in December, the most recent edition of the Cass Freight Index report from Cass Information Systems indicated that 2014 ended up as the best year in freight transportation and logistics over the last seven years.

Many freight transportation and logistics executives and analysts consider the Cass Freight Index to be the most accurate barometer of freight volumes and market conditions, with many analysts noting that the Cass Freight Index sometimes leads the American Trucking Associations (ATA) tonnage index at turning points, which lends to the value of the Cass Freight Index.

Cass said that with both shipments and expenditures at their highest end of year levels since the beginning of the recession in 2007, 2014 saw a change in the timing of the traditional Peak Season, which usually spans from July to September, with retailers building up inventories ahead of time due in part to labor-related issues at United States-based West Coast ports. The situation at those ports has since significantly deteriorated, with myriad issues slowing port throughput and resulting in delays and off-loading of cargo to East and Gulf Coast ports, delayed deliveries of three weeks or longer out of West Coast ports, labor issues, chassis shortages and inefficient chassis distribution, larger TEU ships, and rail capacity issues, among other challenges, and the involved parties––the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union meeting with a federal mediator to come to a resolution.

December freight shipments—at 1.078—were up 4.0 percent annually and down 6.3 percent compared to November. Shipments remained above the 1.0 mark for the 52nd consecutive month.

The slight sequential decline in December retail sales was a factor on the monthly shipment decline, although fourth quarter freight shipment volume hit its highest level since the onset of the recession in 2007, as railroads and motor carriers volumes posted solid annual gains. And with the port labor-related issues firmly intact in the fourth quarter, Cass said that led to an uptick in air cargo volumes in December.

Expenditures––at 2.473 in December––were up 3.6 percent annually and down 6.7 percent from November, which Cass said represents a mix of the decrease in shipment volumes and weaker spot prices along with declining diesel prices that spurred lower freight costs. And the volume decline eased capacity pressure, which was prevalent earlier in 2014, subsequently driving down spot market truck demand and spot prices.

Rosalyn Wilson, senior business analyst with Parsons, and author of the annual CSCMP State of Logistics report and contributor to the Cass report, wrote in the report that 2014 was the best year for logistics in seven years, with sustained growth in freight volumes and revenues, which was in line with projections she made at the CSCMP Annual Conference in San Antonio last October.

“The underlying economy started weak, with real GDP falling 2.1 percent in the first quarter, but strengthened through the year with a 5 percent growth rate in the third quarter,” wrote Wilson. “The freight industry did the opposite––starting strong and weakening somewhat towards the end of the year. This is an expected pattern, however¬¬––not an indicator of a downward turn. In fact, the industry’s performance in 2014 was markedly better than that of the previous two years. Freight rates have only recently begun to spike upward, especially spot market rates. Despite the gains in 2014, freight volume overall has not yet returned to pre-recession levels; however, costs to move the freight are substantially higher than 2006.”

Wilson expects market conditions to improve further in 2015, based on the improving economy and coming off of a strong 2014, and she expects freight volumes and carrier revenues to see steady growth, which stands as good news for carrier with thin margins, but not as good for carriers and shippers, whom will see higher rates in the form of increased goods costs. But she said there are also challenges, too, including increased shortages, costs and unionization of labor, a changing fuel market, credit availability, and global economic forces, among others.

Supply chain stakeholders, like Wilson, are largely optimistic about prospects for 2015, provided the current market dynamics remain in place.

A retail shipper whom declined to be identified told LM that if the West Coast port labor situation comes to an amicable conclusion, and the winter weather does not rear its ugly head as it did a year ago, it could set the stage for another solid year.

Category Transportation