Monthly Archives: April 2018

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Benefits of a Transportation Management System (TMS)

Many companies could easily improve their supply chains by utilizing a transportation management system (TMS). Some companies chose not to use a TMS, and other companies may just not have a good understanding of what exactly a TMS is. It is important to know exactly what a TMS is and how it can help your company save money and time.

What is a TMS? benefits of tms

A TMS is a tool that can help companies and supply chain professionals manage their freight and carriers. The TMS helps the user find the best mode and rate for any type of shipment to make sure that they are getting the best deal possible. The main features of a TMS include features like rating, booking, and tracking. One of the benefits of TMS is that it allows its users to automate order entry, create shipments, optimize shipments and routes, manage carriers, schedule pickups, and deliveries, manage the yard and communicate effectively with all supply chain stakeholders.

What are the benefits of TMS?

Time Savings

Instead of doing manual work or sending disjointed emails, shippers can instantly access the information they need through a single digital platform. The TMS let shippers compare rates side by side and make strategic choices regarding their shipment.

Improved Customer Service

A TMS helps a supply chain run smoothly and make the tracking information as transparent as possible. Shippers can inform their customers of shipment changes (late or missed deliveries) through the TMS to keep a positive relationship between the shipper and the customer.

Business Growth

Companies that use a TMS have a competitive advantage against competition and see many opportunities to grow their business.

Using a TMS is a great resource to help manage your supply chain. PLS offers a TMS known as PLS Pro to help shippers effectively manage and monitor their shipments and supply chain. For more information about PLS Pro, please click here.

Air Shipping for Beginners

Globalization is not just a commonly-used term, it’s our reality. The world is becoming “smaller” and much more interconnected than ever before. People are involved in the events unfolding not only in their own country, but across the globe – we travel, we move and we interact. Many companies today are no longer limiting their operations to one country and are going global.

If your company’s global supply chain requires international shipping, there are a few options you can consider depending on your company’s needs. We have reviewed LCL (Less than Container) ocean shipping in one of our previous s that talked about its advantages and disadvantages. Air freight is another option you can choose to ship your freight internationally.

What are the main characteristics of air shipping? iStock-867645158

  • Quick transit
  • High cost

Air will be the fastest shipping method, without a doubt. However, just like with anything else, convenience (and in logistics world, quicker transit) will come at a price.

Do you need a critical piece of equipment shipped over to save the whole production process from coming to an abrupt halt? Shipping it via air, despite the cost, will be the best option to avoid much higher expenses due to stopped production – just as an example.

What are other advantages of air shipping?

While quick transit is the most obvious as well as the most beneficial for most shippers, air shipping offers some other benefits as a pleasant bonus.

Reliability

The risk of theft and damage of air freight is typically the lowest among all transportation modes. Delays happen due to weather, understandably so, but deliveries are rarely delayed by more than a day (except for prolonged and severe weather conditions).

Tracking

Air shipments are typically easy to track online as air service providers offer flight status visibility.

While air shipping is not the best fit for all companies and all shipments, often it’s just the option your shipment requires. When choosing the shipping method, evaluate your requirements and choose what works for you.

Additionally, certain LTL carriers offer domestic air shipping for overnighting the shipments. Reach out to us for an international or domestic air quotes.

[PA1]Ocean Freight Shipping: Let’s talk LCL

PLS Logistics Services Ranks on Top Freight Brokerage Firms List for 11th Year

CRANBERRY TWP., PA (April 19, 2018) — PLS Logistics Services, a leading provider of technology enabled transportation management and freight brokerage services, has been named on the Transport Topics list of Top Freight Brokerage Firms for 2018.

The annual list ranks freight brokerage firms based on net revenue. The top freight brokerage firms list is part of Transport Topic’s Logistics 50, a yearly review of the largest logistics companies. This marks the 11th consecutive year PLS has placed in the top 30 on the list.

“We’ve built strong partnerships with carriers and shippers alike and their confidence in PLS has been a key reason for our growth,” Greg Burns, Chairman/President/CEO of PLS Logistics Services, said. “We are especially gratified to have achieved our results entirely through organic growth, which supports PLS’ unique culture.”

About PLS Logistics Services

PLS Logistics Services is a leading technology-enabled provider of logistics management, brokerage and technology services for shippers across all industries. PLS handles millions of loads annually across all major freight modes: flatbed, van, LTL, rail and barge, air and ocean. The PLS carrier network consists of over 40,000 pre-qualified trucking companies along with Class-1 railroads and major barge companies. To learn more visit www.plslogistics.com.

Media Contact

Kelsey Magilton, Marketing Manager
724 – 814 – 5074
publicrelations@plslogistics.com

Surviving the Capacity Crunch

After this years hurricanes, the new ELD mandate and the ongoing driver shortage, the trucking industry is facing a capacity crunch. The capacity crunch is creating a drastic increase in freight rates. The trucking capacity crunch is making it harder and harder for both shippers and carriers to survive in the industry. Although the higher-than-average economic growth is a good thing, it is causing manufacturers and suppliers to do more business than before, making it difficult to secure carrier capacity. Shippers and carriers need to work together in this time of need to keep costs low while serving customers efficiently.

Let’s start with the question that many people who aren’t familiar with the industry are wondering – why is this truck capacity crunch happening? One of the main reasons of the trucking capacity crunch is the driver shortage and new ELD mandate implementation. According to a recent study by the American Trucking Association (ATA), the median salary of a U.S. truckload driver increased about 15 percent from 2013-2017 and the pay for a private fleet trucker increased 18 percent. This surge in pay is not going to solve the capacity problem due to the trucking industry already facing a shortage of drivers and high turnover rates due to the enforcement of the ELD mandate. As of March 26, nearly 10 percent of drivers still hadn’t installed the logging devices required by the ELD mandate, potentially putting thousands of vehicles out of service. Overall, there is a shortage of over 100,000 drivers this year needed to meet the rising demand in shipments.

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In a time of shortage and stress, shippers and carriers can work together to keep costs at a minimum while meeting service level requirements. Shippers and carriers can be easier to work with, share information to make billing and paying faster, unload and load shipments quicker and guarantee business in a certain time frame.

When it comes to addressing capacity crunch issues, shippers and carriers can:

  • Consolidate LTL and/or parcel shipments into full truckload – costs can be reduced because shipping one full truckload can be less money than shipping multiple smaller shipments.
  • Pay bills correctly and on time by using a freight bill audit – auditing freight bills and paying the right price can save costs and administrative time.
  • Use a real-time capacity and demand matching digital platform – help alleviate the capacity problem by letting shippers find a carrier from a pool of quality carriers.
  • Improve turnaround speed for drivers at drop-off and pick-up locations – have the carrier book accurate time slots so drivers won’t have to waste time sitting idle waiting to load/unload their shipment.

Working together to create cost saving and time efficiency improvements builds a beneficial partnership between shippers and carriers that can lead to a continuous improvement in overall customer service. Implementing these practices into your own business can help your company survive in a time of a trucking capacity crunch.

 

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Full Truckload Shipping: What You Should Know

LTL (Less-than-truckload) and full truckload shipping are obviously very different. It’s impossible to say which option is “better.” It depends on your company needs, freight type, requirements and a variety of other factors. It’s important to evaluate pros and cons and decide which option is the best fit for your shipping needs.

We have already discussed some LTL shipping tips in one of our previous blogs. Today, we want to focus on full truckload shipping and review some challenges that come with it so that you are prepared when shipping:

Large number of carriers iStock-172155755

LTL is represented by a significantly limited amount of carriers. Their operations are standardized and they work according to set processes within the territory covered by their own/partner carrier terminals. It’s impossible to imagine a 1-person company when it comes to LTL.

If you start moving truckloads, prepare for a completely different scene. While there are large truckload carriers with multiple yards and hundreds of trucks, the industry is heavily reliant on smaller carriers (often, family owned or simply a one-person-operation).

Negotiable rates

Prepare to negotiate! LTL rates are very well structured, broken down and upfront. You provide the shipment information, get the price and choose the best carrier. You should probably avoid this strategy when trying to book a truck for your full load if you want to move it for a good rate.

Determining rates on truckloads is way more “freestyle.” You will have to go through the negotiation process on each full load you are going to move. It’s important to know the market and understand what a fair rate for your shipment is. You need to take into consideration the equipment type, the lane and current market conditions.

Various Equipment

Typically, LTL loads (usually pallet shipments) go into van trailers. It is very simple and straight-forward. Full truckload offers a range of equipment options: dry vans, reefers, various open deck equipment. Some may be perfect for your freight, and others will not work at all.

When deciding on which type of equipment you need, make sure to take into considerations 3 main factors:

  • How is it packaged?
  • Does it need to be protected from weather (and how well)?
  • How will it be loaded/unloaded?

Tight market

If you are getting into the full truckload shipping right now, be aware that it’s a tough time for shippers. A few factors caused the crisis at the end of 2017, and the market it still very tight. Rates are on the rise and securing capacity for your truckload freight might be a challenge. Expertise and strong carrier relationships are crucial to stay afloat in tough market conditions. Partnering up with the right 3PL is often the best option to handle your truckloads efficiently for a few reasons.

Do you need to ship a full truckload and don’t know where to start? Reach out to us for advice.

 

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How to Become a Shipper of Choice

The need for more truck drivers is rapidly increasing today as the shipping industry undergoes a driver shortage. With a driver shortage, rising equipment costs and new regulations, shippers are in competition with one another to gain carrier’s business. It is more important than ever for shippers to find creative, appealing ways to attract carriers and become a shipper of choice.

“I’ve been in the trucking industry since 1980 and I’ve never seen the balance being this out of whack,” Dave Rusch, CEO of CRST International, said about the trucking shortage. Shippers all over are competing against one another to book available trucks at a reasonable rate. The term “shipper of choice” is becoming very popular in an industry that is turning into predominantly a trucker’s market. Today we will discuss four different ways that companies can step up and become a “shipper of choice.”

Avoid Detention

Shippers that regularly detain drivers will find it hard to get a carrier to haul their freight, or even haul it at all. With ELD’s in place, carriers can easily determine how much time the driver was idle at your dock. Drivers can operate up to 11 hours behind the wheel due to highway traffic, roadside inspections, weighing loads, loading and unloading, refueling and maintenance work. Shippers should consider expenditures on their dock operations. Improvements will cost money but will eventually lead to major cost savings per year.

Offer Amenities to Drivers iStock-175585805

This may seem obvious, but providing drivers with a restroom, refreshments and a break room is important to show the driver you care about them. Treating truck drivers the way you would want to be treated makes a big difference in their experience and will most likely lead to them moving a shipment for you again. Many drivers wait for more than an hour or two during the loading and unloading process, so giving the resources they need to be comfortable is a great way to build a positive relationship.

Provide Forecasts and Lead Time

If you can provide a five or seven-day lead time to your carriers, then they can position their trucks and dispatch a driver with minimal costs. Along with giving forecast, it is important to give drivers an idea of how accurate the forecast is. If you forecast 100 loads but are only 50% accurate on your forecast, the carrier will plan differently than if you are 95% accurate. Shippers use a metric called “absolute percent error (APE)” to track accuracy. You should share the APE with core carriers, especially those under a non-disclosure agreement.

Offer More Hours

Being available on off-peak hours and weekends to ship is a great way to become the shipper of choice. If drivers can travel during the day, evening or weekends, you are helping maximize their 11 hours allowed behind the wheel (as mentioned above). This can benefit both the truck driver and the shipper to get the shipment from point A to B as quickly and easily as possible.

Being a shipper of choice is essential in today’s shipping industry. Get a freight quote today and let PLS help you with your shipping needs.

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Mistakes Small Businesses Make in Supply Chain Management

Small businesses often have limited human resources and have employees in charge of a wide array of different tasks. If the business has the need to ship certain products occasionally or on a regular basis, one of these tasks is managing its supply chain. It’s quite easy to make supply chain management mistakes.

Well, how hard can it be to get the product from point A to point B, you may ask? Honest answer: if you want it to be efficient and successful, it may not be that easy! Employees do their best to keep customers happy and costs under control.

At the same time, there are certain common supply chain management mistakes small businesses often make in managing their supply chain which may end up negatively affecting their customer satisfaction rate as well and their bottom line.

Let’s look at a few supply chain management mistakes that might be hurting your business:

A Non-Logistics Logistics Manager

Sounds a little confusing, right? It’s pretty simple. As mentioned before, small businesses often operate with limited resources, and it’s common for a person without any supply chain background (for example, a salesperson) to be in charge of arranging the whole shipping process to the end customer. The lack of industry-specific expertise is quite a disadvantage and may cause shipping disruptions and financial losses.

Missing the Details

This, as well as all other mistakes, often stem from the one main issue mentioned above – not having anyone with solid experience and understanding of logistics processes and details. Logistics professionals are aware of the pitfalls and tricky parts and possess the expertise which allows them to find cost-effective options and avoid unexpected issues/up charges.

supply chain management mistakes

It’s important to research all the details and make sure you are not going to end up facing hidden costs in the pursuit of the best “upfront” price.

Ask straightforward questions about anything which might potentially come back to harm you, and always ensure all the information you provide is accurate and extensive.

Lack of Automation

It’s common for small businesses to lack specific software and automated processes due to obvious reasons – automation is an upfront expense. However, automation software is an investment and can help the future of your business. Investing in automation will save you time and money in the future, help your business and your supply chain be more efficient which is a direct cost-saver.

With that being said, hiring a logistics professional for a small supply chain or investing in automation may not be at the top of your priority list for understandable reasons. What can you do in this case to manage your supply chain efficiently? You can reach out to a 3PL. They can offer the expertise and software that will be highly beneficial for your supply chain. A good 3PL can help you cut down your shipping costs and reduce your logistics-related stress.

Learn more about our supply chain management services and contact us for the supply chain advice!

 

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Tips to Save on LTL Shipments

Basically, the whole idea of LTL (less-than-truckload) shipping is to save money and only pay for the space you use instead of paying for the whole truck. The transit will be longer, but it will be much cheaper than moving a smaller load as a truckload. LTL shipments seem easy to arrange and handle perfectly on your first try, but are they?

There are many small details that are crucial for a smooth LTL experience. When these details are overlooked, they can result in quite unpleasant and costly consequences. Often, these little things either directly affect pricing upfront, or catch you off guard with the unexpected upcharges on the invoice.

What can you do to ensure you are getting the best price for your shipment?

Know your shipment:

  • Freight Class
    • Re-classification is one of the most common reasons for up charges and additional fees. Don’t lose sleep and money over something that can be avoided. Determining freight class may be confusing, so it’s a good idea to educate yourself on what freight class is and how it works.
  • Weight
    • LTL is all about accuracy and precision. If you are shipping LTL, avoid rounding up and down. 9 times out of 10 your freight will be reweighed and you will not only be charged for the extra weight, but will most likely pay the reweigh fees as well.
    • Always use the exact weight of the shipment when quoting and scheduling a load. A nice and round number on the BOL is often a red flag and the weight on such loads is almost always verified.
  • Dimensions
    • Same goes for dimensions: anything outside of a standard pallet may result in additional costs. Make sure to use precise dimensions when quoting and scheduling, and always indicate them on the BOL. The price for shipping a non-standard pallet may be drastically different – don’t let it surprise you after delivery.

iStock-907889692 (1)Ship smart:

  • Consolidate orders
    • Often, shipments are repeatedly going to the same locations. If at all possible, try to consolidate a few smaller orders into one bigger LTL shipment. In the end, it will be cheaper to ship them as one load.
  • Maximize the space
    • It’s not a secret that LTL shipping is heavily relying on density and used space. Try to be as efficient with your pallet space as possible. This is a direct cost-saver.
  • Watch the accessorial cost
    • In the LTL world, almost everything will be an accessorial: appointments, residential deliveries, notification prior to delivery and so on. You need to be aware of what is required. It is also important to quote your shipment with all the accessorial charges when choosing the carrier. Accessorial fees will vary from carrier to carrier, and if carrier A is the cheapest on the “flat” quote, it may be nowhere near the cheapest option when you add accessorial fees.

The easiest way to ship LTL efficiently is to partner up with an experienced 3PL. A good 3PL will not only provide the expertise needed to ensure the best LTL experience, but also give you access to their carefully negotiated and heavily discounted LTL rates.

Looking for an LTL quote? Contact us!

 

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Trending Transportation Updates: March 2018

E-Commerce Trends

E-commerce is constantly changing the way consumers communicate with businesses all over the world. 74% of shoppers said that they prefer free shipping over fast shipping. This statistic can help companies, especially small and mid-sized businesses, gain an understanding of what promotions or offers to run to keep customers satisfied with shipping options. 1.7 billion people said that they shopped online in 2017. With e-commerce becoming to prevalent in today’s society, this number is expected to rise in the coming months of 2018. To read more about e-commerce trends, click here.

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ELD Mandate Grace Period Has Ended

 The three-month grace period for trucks to be equipped with electronic logging devices is over. As of April 1, drivers caught without an ELD will face penalties and be placed out of service for 10 hours. The rule mandates that any driver required to previously keep a paper record of duty status must install an ELD. The new technology will ensure that drivers comply with the 11-hour daily driving time and 14- hour on-duty time maximums to help keep truck drivers safe on the road. To read more, click here.

Alphabet and Jaguar Go Driver-less

Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., is making some noise in the transportation industry. Alphabet’s self-driving arm, Waymo, is introducing a new all electric driver-less car produced by Jaguar Land Rover. Waymo is an autonomous car development company and subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. The new vehicle is known as the “Jaguar I-Pace” and is expected to begin production on the cars in 2020. The company expects to manufacture 20,000 cars in the first two years. The partnership with Jaguar can fulfill Waymo’s ride-hail service and licensing its technology to automakers. Waymo and Tesla’s products mirror each other and will continue to change the transportation industry. To read more about this partnership, click here.

Tesla’s Model X CrashiStock-898347188

Earlier this Month, Tesla had a vehicle involved in a deadly crash on a freeway, resulting in the death of the driver. Tesla said that autopilot was engaged at the time of the accident and the cruise control follow distance was set to a minimum. Tesla said that the driver received warnings to re-take control of the vehicle. Tesla admits that the Autopilot is an impacted system, but stands behind its products saying that it’s is better than the alternative. This accident occurred less than a week after a self-driving Uber vehicle killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. These fatal accidents have created a national debate about the safety of autonomous cars that will be a hot topic throughout 2018. To read more about Tesla’s Model X crash, click here.

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