Category Archives: Blog

Supplying Love: Valentine’s Day Logistics

Valentine’s Day for most people means romantic dates with flowers, chocolates and meaningful cards. While the biggest problem on February 14 is pleasing your loved one, logistics managers and suppliers start stressing much earlier to provide you with all of the gift options you need.

Roses are not grown at your florist’s home garden and heart-shaped boxes don’t appear in the store by accident. Before Valentine’s Day, all of Valentine’s gifts travel a long and well-planned out journey thanks to logistics. 

Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest holidays in the logistics industry. Just in the U.S. alone, nearly 60% of the population celebrates it. Moreover, considering the emotional meaning of the holiday, failing to deliver gifts on-time is unacceptable. And that’s why logistics makes the show go on by supplying retailers and flower shops.

However, flowers are not the most popular surprise among Valentine’s present buyers. According to the National Retail Federation stats, the top gift option is candy (55%), followed by cards (45.9%) and flowers (35.6%).

Logistics is not just about importing goods from one country to another. After chocolates or flowers are imported, they are forwarded to the importer’s distribution center, where all the items are separated before departing to the retailer’s warehouse. At the retailer’s facility, hundreds of people unpack the boxes, label them, pack them again, and move them to stores. Finally, products are shelved and the gifts are ready for selling. Quite a long journey, right?

Moreover, chocolates and flowers are perishable and require special handling and freeze protection. Chocolate is especially temperature sensitive and can survive neither excess heat nor cold, otherwise, it will spoil and disappoint many people. Special conditions make Valentine’s Day even more complex, yet the delivery deadlines are still met thanks to the logistics and retail industry.

How Oil and Gas Companies Can Benefit from 3PL Partnership

Unlike any other industry, oil and gas supply chains are incredibly complex. Supplying every operation with heavy equipment, rigs, pipes and hazardous materials requires extreme organization and strategy. Transporting such materials in such large volume demands using multiple modes, high capacity, special vehicles and strict regulatory compliance.  

Oil and gas supply chains cannot survive any delays, disruptions or poor management. Every mistake and missed deadline can cost a company thousands of dollars. the mismanagement of such global processes can cause worldwide issues because the entire world is highly dependent on energy supplies.

Read How to Optimize Your Oil and Gas Supply Chain

Handling logistics for oil and gas companies by yourself is an expensive and inefficient approach, which often lacks visibility. Transportation is a large branch of the energy business and requires tons of time, efforts and enormous responsibility. Just one rig site may involve equipment from 80 different carriers. Considering that most of the drilling sites are located in inaccessible areas, it’s hard to imagine the volume of responsibility and costs involved in the process.

Many companies apply customized shipping solutions to their supply chains by outsourcing logistics operations to third-party logistics providers, or 3PLs. Outsourcing offers many benefits to energy companies:

Customized solutions

Finding the right transportation mode and providing necessary equipment is crucial for on-time delivery. 3PLs partner with a wide range of experienced carriers and have a variety of options to offer for your shipping needs. Flatbed trucking, casing and tubing deliveries, rig site delivery, combining transportation modes, warehousing, freight management, and hotshot services – all of these options fall under a 3PLs expertise.

Read Do I Need Logistics Help for Mining, Oil & Gas Operations?

Safety

Unlike many other industries, safety is a top priority for the oil and gas sector due to its specific nature. Cutting costs on safety compliance is unacceptable, and 3PLs consider this factor while managing your supply chain. Logistics experts will provide assistance with regulatory compliance and ensure the transportation runs smoothly.

Technology and visibility

Due to its complexity and time-sensitivity, oil and gas logistics operations require increased visibility. Multiple processes mean lots of data that needs to be stored and systematized efficiently. 3PLs leverage advanced transportation management systems (TMS), which give complete visibility into supply chain and reports at all times.

Read Transportation Management in the Oil & Gas Industry

When choosing a 3PL for your logistics solutions, consider the experience they have in your sector. While technology and a variety of carriers are important, understanding the specifics of oil and gas industry challenges is a key feature to look for.

Bill of Lading: Do’s and Don’ts

Shipping freight is a complex process, and sometimes the paperwork can be a headache. When you are ready to ship, the last thing you want to do is have issues and overpay due to incorrect paperwork.

Essentially, the cargo transportation process involves many documents. One piece of documentation is more important than the others, and that is the Bill of Lading (BOL).

Providing accurate and correct information while completing a BOL may seem too evident, yet penalties for wrong data in the document are very common. There are many things that can happen if you don’t fill out a BOL correctly, and today we want to help highlight some of the major do’s and don’ts of the Bill of Lading form.

Do’s:

  • Make sure all of the dimensions, numbers, and weight are exact and correct
  • Make sure the address of the shipper and consignee are accurate
  • Mark whether your bill is prepaid, collect, or a third party bill to ensure the invoice is going to the right place and payment won’t be delayed
  • Make sure to put down all the details you want the carrier to know
  • Provide an accurate freight class code according to NMFC rules

While the above recommendations may seem familiar or obvious to you, take the time to read what you should NOT write in your BOL:

Don’ts:

  • Describe weight or dimensions as “approximate” or an “estimate.” Before stating/writing down any numbers, you have to check the accuracy and put only concrete information that you know is correct
  • State general or uncertain freight descriptions. For instance, “details” or “parts” does not give a full image of what you’re shipping. Use “steel details for drilling equipment” or “auto parts” instead of uncertain examples
  • Not being specific on a freight count. Make sure you accurately defined how many items are actually listed.
  • Not specifying the carrier or party. If you don’t include that in a form, the general contractor will choose the carrier instead of you.
  • Not listing any contacts. It is highly recommended to leave at least one cell number to be in touch with a carrier in case of emergency or for proper updates
  • Not calling your carrier. It’s better to call 1-2 days prior and remind them about the pickup, shipment details and booth number.
  • Missing some fields of BOL. Make sure that every single section of the bill of lading is completed.

Ultimately, everything goes down to triple-checking all the information in your BOL. Before you sign the document, make sure you won’t regret signing it later. With these steps and precautions, you are ready to ship freight successfully!

Trending Transportation Updates: January 2019

There were many new and exciting developments throughout the transportation and shipping industry last month. Check out some of the top stories that made headlines during January!

The UK Prepares Supply Chain as Brexit Nears

The United Kingdom and European Union had 18 months to seamlessly manage the transition, but with roughly 3 months left to an official Brexit deadline, no agreement has been reached between the parties. Due to the undefined outcome, experts forecast ports and highways are in danger of delays and congestion. Sellers, suppliers, and carriers are preparing for a cliff-edge scenario. In particular, DHL claims to be “very well prepared, even for the worst case.” Meanwhile, the UK awarded 3 freight contracts to avoid extreme congestion in the English Channel in case negotiations won’t lead to a deal.

Read more about the Brexit preparation here.

Amazon signs a 7-year contract with the French robotics company and tests delivery robot

Amazon has recently announced a 7-year agreement with French robotics manufacturer, Balyo. The company will supply the retail giant with autonomous forklifts, which can handle from 3,000 to 15,000 pounds. Before Balyo, Amazon has utilized Kiva systems robots since 2012.

Also, the retailer announced it is testing “Scout,” a new delivery robot. The six-wheel device is described as a “fully-electric delivery system.” The robot is following a programmed route and moves with a pace of an average pedestrian, and operates on weekdays during daylight. It is designed to deliver packages to customers’ doors.

Read more about Amazon new delivery robot or Balyo agreement.

Ocean Alliance extends the agreement until 2027

The Ocean Alliance members have recently met in China to extend the “world’s largest operational agreement between shipping companies.” The original agreement was signed in 2017 and was about to expire in 2023, although the CMA CGM, COSCO, Evergreen and OOCL decided to push the expiration date to 2027.

Read more about Ocean Alliance agreement here.

Walmart about to open high-tech consolidation facility

Walmart has announced its plan to open a high-tech consolidation center in Colton, CA. A 340,000 square-foot facility will start its work in July and will mainly sort, receive and ship orders from suppliers before sending it to a distribution center.

Read more about the Walmart consolidation center here.

3 Most Common Questions About a Bill of Lading

A Bill of Lading is one of the most important documents in the world of freight shipping. However, it’s still confusing for many companies and shippers to understand what a BOL is and what role it plays in the transportation process.

To clear it up, here are the 5 most important things you need to know about a Bill of Lading:

What is Bill of Lading?

Bill of Lading (BOL) is a legal document that involves a shipper of certain freight and a carrier, who is responsible for transporting goods. The document is issued by the carrier (or transportation company) to the shipper and states the type, quantity and destination of the goods being carried.

Read What Is a Bill of Lading

Why do you need it? 

Imagine boarding a plane without a ticket. It’s not happening either way, and a BOL plays the same role in freight transportation. It serves multiple purposes, and here are the most important of them:

  • A receipt for shipment
  • A contract between freight carrier and shipper
  • A document of title

If your freight is lost or damaged, having accurate information in your BOL will boost claim processing and raise the chances to find the cargo. Providing correct information is essential to complete a Bill of Lading. Neglecting to do so puts you at risk for experiencing delays and unwanted headache.

What information does it contain?

As the most important record in the shipping process, the Bill of Lading essentially includes a lot of important information. Basically, it answers every what, where, and who of the freight.

BOL data includes:

  • Shipper’s name and address
  • Receiver’s/consignee’s name and address
  • Purchase order number or special account numbers used for order tracking
  • Special instructions
  • Date of the shipment
  • Number of units being shipped
  • Type of packaging (including cartons, pallets, skids, and drums)
  • Note if the shipment contains Department of Transportation hazardous material
  • Description of items being shipped (including the material of manufacture and common name)
  • The NMFC freight classification
  • The exact weight of the shipment
  • The declared value of the goods being shipped

Final thoughts

No matter if you are a large corporation, a small business or an individual shipper, if you have to ship cargo, chances are you’ll deal with the Bill of Lading. Completing it is not as scary and complex as it seems, just make sure you provide correct information.

Read A Comprehensive Guide to Completing a Bill of Lading

 

Key Things To Know About Shipping Oversized Loads

Whether you’re shipping equipment, steel items or any other oversized load that is beyond regular shipping services competence, it is considered over-dimensional freight. Shipping such loads may be burdensome and complicated, as freight requires special vehicles, precise control and has to meet delivery deadlines.

What are the measurements of oversized freight?

Navigating the waters of over-dimensional cargo can be tricky, and it’s important to know some essential information before searching for a shipping partner. One of the key aspects you should grasp are the legal limits of oversized freight.

In the U.S., your load is oversized if it exceeds 8 ft 6 in (2.59 m) width, 13 ft 6 in (4.11 m) height, and is more than 48-53 ft in length. However, these measurements are generalized, and every state has its own regulations. You can check the relevant load dimensions here.

What factors should be considered while shipping an oversized load?

Shipping oversized, unusual loads may be challenging. It is important to prepare ahead of time and think through many key points before getting the load on the road:

  • Define your dimensions. As we discussed above, it is important to know what you are going to ship: measurements, weight, and special requirements. Once you’ve determined the load size and your freight class, the next steps should run smoothly.
  • Plan in advance. Shipping heavy hauls may take time and effort, so it’s better to have time for planning. Maybe you will need escorted shipping services, a special vehicle, or other assistance. Once you’re armed with a suitable time frame, the shipping arrangement process becomes less stressful. 
  • Partner with a reliable 3PL. Arranging transportation of oversized freight can cause a lot of stress, expenses and still doesn’t ensure a successful outcome. An experienced shipping partner will execute the most burdensome work, which is obtaining a carrier, negotiating the price, getting permits, providing freight management and expert consulting.
  • Be ready for unpredictable circumstances. Unexpected things can occur during every single shipment, such as weather conditions, hurricanes, driving restrictions, etc. It’s better to reserve some time for unpredictable delays than to think these occurrences won’t happen to you.

Final thoughts

With a well-prepared strategy, reserved amount of time and a dedicated shipping partner, moving oversized freight can be easier than you might imagine. The mentioned practices will help you plan your next oversized shipment efficiently.

Need to ship an oversized load? PLS Logistics Services is here for you. Request a free quote now!

Best Practices for a Robust Warehouse Management

In the fast-changing world of commerce and transportation, the role of warehouses and inventory facilities becomes more and more important.

Why does warehouse management matter?

All forward-looking companies that manufacture or retail goods think about delivering better customer service for their customers. The great service often suggests fast delivery, which includes order fulfillment time combined with transit time. While a lot has been already said about route optimization and faster transits, fulfillment strategy can often be overlooked. Warehouse and inventory management is crucial for faster, efficient order fulfillment. A well-thought out fulfillment strategy and warehouse organization process let companies operate faster and increase productivity.

What is warehouse management? 

Warehouse management is a complex series of activities, steered toward maintaining and reviewing all of the processes within the facility. Warehouse management includes:

  • Setting up the warehouse and inventory
  • Optimizing facility space to fit the maximum volume of products in a properly sorted way
  • Maintaining the required equipment
  • Picking, packing, and shipping orders
  • Control and maintenance of the entire warehouse performance

What are best practices for proper warehouse management?

There are many different ways to improve your warehouses’ operational performance, as well as boost the efficiency of order fulfillment. Here are some tips on technologies and strategies you can use to improve your company’s warehousing:

  1. Make sure you are using the space efficiently. Re-organizations of storage planning are useful, as you can define the misused or extra space in your facility. The more optimized your warehouse space is, the faster the shipping process will be. A great tip is to sort your products in the following way: high-selling ones should be put near the packing section for easy access, and all the other goods should be sorted according to demand.
  2. Use a robust warehouse management system (WMS). This is software for tracking, documenting and keeping everything organized. WMS is an essential tool for any company who wants to take its performance to another level. Choosing a well-oiled management system matters, as it helps simplify the process of order circulation.
  3. Automation. Digitization and new technology are affecting all industries, especially the logistics sector. In a global supply chain, innovations are driving progress and warehouse automation lets companies enhance the operational performance with robotic systems, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence. Such shifts may be hard to implement and can even disrupt the fulfillment process, but the end result is believed to be worth the efforts. Automation makes operations much faster, eliminates manual tasks and collects data more efficiently.

Final thoughts

After all, a thorough analysis is key. Discuss with your team all of the major drawbacks and pitfalls of your current warehousing strategy, and define a action plan. Who knows, maybe updating your warehouse management strategy will be a major uplift for your business!

What Are Cobots and How Do They Impact Logistics?

Technology is diving deeper inside the logistics sector, and it isn’t limited to just IoT and blockchain. There are many technology applications now available that can significantly benefit the performance of logistics companies. Although most of the innovations are utilized to enhance tracking, data analytics, and digital operations, there are additional fields of the logistics industry where optimization is much needed. The transportation industry is beginning to move away from depending on manual operation, especially in the context of fulfillment, sorting, packing, etc. One of the newer tools created to solve these issues are cobots, also known as collaborative robots.

What are cobots?

Cobots are devices whose main role is to assist human employees with manual tasks. Cobots are mainly used for sorting and packing orders, handling heavy and dangerous freight, and other manual warehousing tasks. The main purpose of cobots is not to replace human jobs, but to help them with execution and live up to their name of helping cooperating safely with people.

What are the opportunities and benefits of using cobots?

Many giant retailers like Amazon have already been utilizing cobots for a long time. In 2012, the company acquired Kiva Systems, a provider of mobile robotics fulfillment systems. According to the IDC report, at the end of 2018, nearly 45% of 200 of the world’s largest e-commerce companies have been deploying robotic technology. This means that the cobots market is about to accelerate in the next few years and has some comprehensive benefits to offer businesses.

  • Performing repetitive tasks, which increases general productivity. Some of the simplest tasks can be fully executed by cobots. Robotic assistance can help escalate processes drastically as the cobot can be taught to perform a certain task quickly without errors. According to Forbes, bots from 6 River Systems increase the pick-to-cart rate from 90 units per hour to 200 units per hour. Robots can also be particularly useful in sorting freight or parcels of different sizes and types, as the implemented pattern allows them to do so.
  • Reducing costs. Naturally, you don’t need to pay robots for work except for the investment to buy the robotic technology. However, the payoff won’t make you wait for a long time. WDP states that the average cost recovery period for part-automation is between 1.6 and 1.7 years. If production speeds up and the error rate decreases, it ultimately results in a higher profit.
  • No place for error. One of the most comprehensive benefits of cobots is their resistance to making mistakes compared to humans. Machines are faster at performing repetitive manual tasks and are less prone to errors.
  • Handling heavy loads. There are different types of cobots, and some of them can assist in picking up or handling heavy or dangerous freight, therefore helping prevent human injuries.

Ultimately, robotic devices are becoming a part of the logistics industry. Companies like have successfully deployed cobots and have boosted their productivity at their logistics facility. The growing awareness of collaborative systems means they certainly have a bright future and real, rewarding benefits.

What Is Expedited Shipping?

Today’s society consists of living in a world full of many unpredictable circumstances. Logistics usually requires strict delivery times and deadlines with close attention to detail, and people may often not know there is a faster shipping option available. If you have an urgent, unplanned shipment that has to be delivered as soon as possible, expedited shipping can be a great solution for you and/or your company.

What is expedited shipping?

Expedited shipping is when freight is delivered faster than regular transit times. The main difference between standard shipping and expedited shipping is a much shorter transportation times and fewer touch points during transit. Naturally, expedited freight shipping may cost more than a regular shipment, as it is considered a special service.

How is expedited freight transported?

Usually, companies provide a separate truck with two drivers switching shifts. It’s often called a “dedicated” truck, as it is devoted to your LTL shipment and doesn’t make frequent stops while in transit. The “dedicated” truck goes straight from the pickup point to delivery destination. A solid route not only makes shipments much faster, but will also assure freight safety. The fewer touch points there are during transit, the fewer are chances your freight will be damaged or stolen.

In what cases should you use an expedited shipping option?

Expedited shipping is a perfect solution for urgent and last minute situations. Whenever the deadline is tightening or there is an unpredictable situation that takes place effecting your shipment, picking the urgent shipping option can be a wise decision. For example, there is equipment damage at the manufacturing or mining site, and the new assets need to be delivered as soon as possible, or medical supplies are required for a specific location quickly. All of these cases need time-sensitive delivery and demand a faster transit than regular shipments.

Depending on the company and your needs, expedited transit times differ. Generally, the delivery takes 2-3 days. Third-party logistics providers can help plan and manage expedited LTL freight shipping. Here at PLS Logistics Services, we can handle your freight regardless of its size and distance. Our experienced freight brokers will provide professional help so you can be sure that shipment arrives safe and on-time.

Read about our expedited shipping services or get your quote now! 

Download our free eBook “Are You Using Expedited Shipping The Right Way?”

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  • Why consistent delivery is the primary element in gaining customer satisfaction
  • How to plan for expedited shipping instead of using it as a rushed solution
  • How to reduce expedited shipping costs
  • The value of JIT inventory
  • Why expedited transportation is an effective shipping strategy

How Digitization Impacts Oil and Gas Industry

It is hard to imagine how the oil and gas industry operates with all its complex, critical processes involved. And it’s even harder to think of all the challenges it faces in the modern, every-changing world. The oil and gas sector is experiencing major shifts and transformations, and its all because of digitization.

Why digitization matters to oil and gas?

The Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, blockchain and big data are all terms that are prevalent among many industries, and the energy industry is no exception. More and more companies are seeking innovative, data-driven solutions for production efficiency and workforce stimulation. Technology today is the main efficiency booster in oil and gas, which can reduce costs and escalate decision making. Although it is not clear enough for some businesses how exactly digitization transforms into financial profit, the right application of technology can take the company’s performance to an entirely new level.

How digitization benefits oil and gas companies?

Digitization opens a vast variety of benefits for oil and gas companies.

  • Improving the performance of oil and gas assets and equipment. With the help of connected devices like IoT (Internet of Things), remote condition monitoring of well-site equipment is possible. Sensor technology lets companies track and gather data about equipment usage and maintenance. This data analysis, consequently, gives the potential to define waste operations and optimize production. Reviewing equipment can also mitigate its failure, and therefore contribute to better safety and health conditions for site workers.
  • Faster decision making. The energy industry is very complex and requires useful, well-thought decisions to be made on a daily basis. In such a huge industry, it’s hard to make accurate predictions and choices. Big data analysis is believed to be a key solution for decision making in the oil and gas industry. The concept behind this technology is simply gathering large volumes of data, sorting it properly and making an advanced analysis. Conclusions give companies invaluable insights, lets experts make decent forecasts and defines gaps in business models.
  • Reducing costs. All the technologies mentioned above can significantly cut your operational costs. As the usage of IoT and big data lets companies detect gaps and anomalies in the production, the elimination or reformation of waste processes will lead to cost savings. Also, innovations bring improved efficiency, which results in more profit.
  • Attracting the workforce. Recruiting is one of the most underestimated benefits of digitization. Oil and gas companies constantly struggle to attract young, tech-savvy talents to the industry, and digitization is a very promising solution for the issue. The 2018 Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) report stated that opportunities for remote and flexible jobs are in-demand for young employees and 48 percent of respondents referred it as an attractive feature of job in the oil and gas sector. Apart from the flexibility and new workplaces, digitization can offer employees possibilities for growth and development.

Final thoughts

Digitization is believed to transform the oil and gas industry in many ways. It can impact every stage of production, boost efficiency, reduce costs and make the sector more attractive for a young and talented workforce. Oil and gas companies should pay more attention to technology-enabled solutions in order to develop their brand image and improve performance.

If you need help with the transportation of oil and gas equipment, assets or materials, check our Energy Services page or contact us now!