There are many new technologies affecting the logistics industry, and one of the most promising among new technology is blockchain. Blockchain successfully changes many different industries that have nothing to do with cryptocurrency. Technology like blockchain is believed to dramatically change the company’s supply chains and save billions of costs on operations.
What is blockchain?
The blockchain is a digital register with advanced encryption mechanisms. It lets companies track and record transactions and securely store data, making it almost impossible to steal, delete or change information. Also, every transaction or record is a single block. After verification, it becomes a part of the sequence.
This technology allows companies to keep every transaction, documentation and any manipulation made on an object in one place. This allows companies to have complete transparency on every single action or data unit. Also, it assures protection from ransomware and cyber attacks.
How can blockchain be used for supply chain needs?
A supply chain is a very complex structure with hundreds of transactions and modes of communication involved. Verifying and maintaining information that flows through the supply chain can be time-consuming and expensive. Blockchain technology allows companies to immediately verify and lock each data unit. This supplies robust protection against data stealing, deleting or unwanted modifications. In a nutshell, blockchain provides transparency on every transaction. Additionally, it allows managing the data in a systemized and easily accessible way. Any manufacturer, auditor or supplier can access required data or payment in no time, which makes operations processes much faster and more efficient. The difference in supply chain performance could potentially be incredible after the blockchain contribution. All because it drastically reduces extra interactions, increases data security and authenticity, apart from significant time and cost savings.
How it affects the logistics industry?
Apart from supply chain needs, blockchain can be utilized for many other needs of the logistics industry. Temperature-sensitive shipments often suffer from delays and temperature deviations, and lots of them may become damaged during transit. It happens because of poor temperature tracking, customs delays and more. Blockchain can help solve these problems. It allows fast access to any data and transaction on a certain shipment. When combined with connected devices (Internet of Things), the data from trackers is transmitted to the blockchain, where it is stored and used for analysis.
In conclusion, blockchain is one of the most up-and-coming innovations to grow, develop and enhance the performance of the logistics industry. Companies that invest in such technologies would certainly be ahead of the competitors and will save a significant amount of money.
Today, brand image plays a noble role in a company’s presence. So, it is crucial for companies to move from the traditional corporate model to a sustainability-focused business model. As companies aim to be more customer-oriented, there is a need to respond to your audience’s wants and needs. Customers become more interested not only in your product, but in your company’s philosophy, values, and concerns. It is essential for companies to help the surrounding environment and put in an effort to help combat the world’s global issues in any way that they can. One of the industries main concerns is green logistics – a trend that became extremely widespread in recent time.
What is green logistics?
Green logistics includes a company’s effort of lowering emissions, implementing more sustainable operations processes and reducing environmental pollution. Also, there is a variety of solutions that companies can apply to be greener, from simple to very advanced, progressive actions. The environmental issues in the world are only getting worse. So, it is now more important than ever for companies to get involved.
How green logistics can reduce your supply chain costs?
An eco-friendly strategy can allow a company to remain focused on bringing in profit while helping the environment. A sustainability approach can help companies have better brand representation and fewer expenses. Integrating current processes and strategies to be more “green” and environmentally friendly can help companies increase efficiency and possibly decrease costs. A great example of how companies can join green initiatives is our partnership with SmartWay Transport program.
Pool distribution helps reduce the wasted use of trucks and helps save costs. Pooling means consolidation of shipments from a single shipper that is collected altogether and then dropped off at one point (normally at the shipper’s distribution center). Benefits of using such an approach are evident. Gathering shipments with the same route let you save costs on fuel. Additionally, it can help reduce human labor expenses, and efficiently use truck capacity.
Optimize packaging materials
One of the best ways to make shipments more “eco-friendly” is picking recyclable packaging materials. However, the point is not only in the package itself but in the way you use it. Optimizing the way shipments are packed is a great consideration not only for the environment but for a company’s budget as well.
Implementing energy management systems
An energy management system is a set of tools for tracking, control, and optimization of the generation and use of energy. Such solutions work best for warehouses and can significantly reduce the expenses on transmission systems performance.
Efficient use of warehouse spaces
People often associate pollution and inefficient use of resources with trucks, but things such as warehouse space management play an influential role in environmental awareness as well. The point of optimizing warehouses is using less capacity, packaging materials, and maintenance resources for the same amount of assets. The benefits of optimizing warehouses help companies save costs on electricity, create more space for new items, and have better management.
Whether you are taking small steps forward a greener policy or planning major changes, green logistics is a successful decision. Green logistics work to improve your brand ideology and eliminate waste from your companies supply chain.
The holiday season remains one of the busiest times for retailers, and each year, the volume of shipments continues to grow. E-commerce continues to make advancements for supply chain needs and service requirements, making it harder to compete with big companies like Amazon. This year, e-commerce sales are estimated to obtain 52 percent of total orders made during the season.
Here are some key trends to look for this year during the holiday season:
Optimizing mobile applications
Almost all consumers have smart phones with access to mobile applications. It is essential to provide your customer with a convenient way to use your mobile application so that they can easily carry out their supply chain function or make purchases online. As more people are shopping on their mobile device, your mobile version should be as polished as the website. If customers can make purchases through your app, make sure that the checkout process runs smoothly and that the site will handle technical obstacles during the peak days of sellouts.
Offer free shipping
Many retailers are offering free shipping to customers during the holiday season to produce more sales and customer loyalty. When shopping for the holidays, many customers are more likely to shop at places that offer free shipping deals instead of companies that do not. The companies that are offering free shipping should prepare for the holiday season in advance and have all of their shipments in before the big shopping days arrive to ensure they have enough product for the volume of orders they will be receiving.
Focus on supply chain efficiency
Handling the stress of the holiday season can be challenging. Businesses need to control and monitoring their supply chain at every stage of operations to make sure all the processes run smoothly. Reviewing warehouses, reading over contracts with 3PL providers or fleet owners can help companies run a successful, organized supply chain during the busiest season.
Extensive sales period
Extending the sales period is a popular and efficient way to take the pressure off of the company and logistics providers, as the general volume of orders is pushed back and given more time. In addition, elongated selling time means more purchases. According to statistics and experts forecast, the period between Thanksgiving and the end of Cyber Monday week represents 37 percent of the total U.S. holiday retail sales.
Every year, the preparation process for the holiday shipping season becomes more complex. New technology and solutions are constantly being developed to help companies overcome the peak season. A proper analysis, research, and preparation in advance will do a lot in reaching aspired goals.
The holiday season is a tough time for retailers and the transportation industry, and the time between Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be the peak period of the rush. Large volumes of e-commerce purchases are putting more and more pressure on businesses and their logistics managers every year. Today we will look at how the crazy shopping day known as Black Friday came about to change the holiday shopping season forever.
What is the origin of Black Friday?
There are many stories about how Black Friday got its name, but the main story says the origin of the term “Black Friday” came from 1960’s retailers’ slang. After Thanksgiving, the stores went from being “in red,” which meant having no money, to being “in black,” which implied making a profit. Black Friday also stands for the extreme rush caused by the beginning of the shopping season.
Interesting facts about Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Usually, buyers and retailers do not see the details of a company’s logistics and supply chain processes, but there is a huge engine running behind the scenes to keep companies organized and keep shipments coming in and out properly. The journey a package takes from a warehouse to your front door is far more complex than you may think. In honor of Black Friday later this week, here are some interesting facts and insights about the busiest shopping day of the year:
Almost 74 percent of Americans plan to spend big on Black Friday sales in 2018.
The average purchase amount is estimated to be $483, which equals $90.14 billion of total expenses between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Surprisingly, men will spend twice as much as women, reaching an average $626.44 for men compared with $342.50 for women.
To handle the mass amount of shipments and demand, UPS and FedEx are hiring 95,000 and 50,000 people accordingly as additional workforce.
On average, 6 people deal with a package directly before it reaches its final destination.
Since 2006, 7 deaths and 98 injuries occurred during Black Friday shopping.
Most companies start holiday preparation in the summer or even earlier.
The most wanted objects for gifts or personal purchase are gift cards, clothes, electronics, and jewelry.
Almost 52 percent of Americans have said they regret their purchases during Black Friday, and nearly 30 percent end up returning items they bought.
In 2017, Amazon took 54.9 percent of all online transactions during Black Friday.
People shop online more than in stores during Black Friday.
As the competition among logistics companies and retailers becomes fiercer every year, it is important to analyze the data and watch the trends to stay relevant and competitive. If you are a large company that needs help with your Black Friday shipment preparation, reach out to a third party logistics provider like PLS today to let us move your loads for you!
“The line between disorder and order lies in logistics.” – Sun Tzu
Logistics and supply are one of the most essential functions for any military, modern or historical. Operational logistics for a military refer to the set of activities carried out in order to satisfy the needs of those involved. This includes food, transportation, war materials, medical services, and much more.
Dawn of War
Since the first recorded war in history took place in Mesopotamia, there has always been a need to supply the troops fighting it. Some of the first kings and generals had two simple choices for supply chain management when they chose to send their army out on a campaign.
The first method was simple, bring what you need however you can. Pack animals, wagons, and ships were the leading means of transport in antiquity. This has one major fault in that bringing supplies on a campaign leads to long lines of ‘baggage’ following the army. Movement is slowed and the supply train becomes a prime target for enemy forces.
Option two was the practice of foraging and looting supplies, primarily fodder. This method was efficient but by no means perfect. No guarantee on supplies could lead to a very unsettled army and too much pilfering could lead to a very unhappy populace in the surrounding countryside. Nothing spurs an armed insurgency better than an occupying army raiding civilian food stores and warehouses.
An Age of Empires
As the size of armies grew and the scope of conflicts greatly increased so did the need for supplies. Alexander the Great’s army of 65,000 men required 195,000 pounds of grain and 325,000 pounds a water every single day. Following in the footsteps of Alexander, the Romans needed to master supply chain management to ease the burden of their massive empire. The Romans saw the importance of supply and created a highly sophisticated logistical system that allowed them to provision large armies at long distances. The reach and organization of the Roman Legions were unparalleled in the ancient world.
Supply chain management for an army remained relatively unchanged up until the 16th and 17th century when the logistics of overseas campaigns nearly bankrupted the Spanish Empire on several occasions. A new world to explore meant logistics needed to change again. Reforms would highlight the next era of military logistics as armies continued to grow.
Over the Hills and Far Away
The global wars that started to arise in the 17th century posed a multitude of new problems for military logisticians. Supplying a fighting force overseas in a hostile country was a monumental task for the technology at the time. Even after reforming processes the sheer scale of the operations needed was sometimes too much for a nation.
The British faced a horrendous supply situation during the American Revolutionary War. A 3,000-mile journey between ports in Ireland and the colonies was a massive undertaking in its own right. The distance coupled with bad weather, American privateers, and food going bad hampered the British at every turn. Foraging and using the colonies for supplies only further enraged the populace and embroiled the cause that the British were fighting. Ultimately it can be said that supply chain management was a major factor in the British loss.
Major reforms followed the defeat just as the dawn of a new force in military logistics came to power, and his name was Napoleon Bonaparte. Before him, military supply was based on contracts with private companies, looting, and requisition. Logistics became a major internal function of the Grande Armée and was extremely successful during the Ulm campaign in 1805. France’s German allies turned entire towns into supply depots ready for the dedicated supply personal of Bonaparte’s imperial army. Despite early successes at Ulm and Austerlitz, the French mastery of supply and logistics faltered under the British blockade and in the face of guerrilla warfare in the Peninsular War in Spain.
The next major advance came in the form of a new transportation method, railroads. Rail transport greatly expanded an armies mobility and reach. The American Civil war was a hallmark moment for military logistics. Railways were used to great effect, but they became yet another target for guerrillas and raiders. Men, weapons, and supplies could now be moved across vast distances in a very short amount of time compared to traditional methods. The Prussian use of railways during the Franco-Prussian War is often cited as a prime example of logistic modernizations where the Germanic army crushed the French Empire in a very short period of conflict.
Industrialized and Mechanized Warfare
The turn of the century and the beginning of the Great War led to yet another shift in military logistics. Conscription led to absolutely massive armies numbering in the millions and battlefronts that spanned an entire continent. Industrialized firepower such as massed artillery, machine guns, and airplanes led to an increased demand in munitions. Most logistics strategies during the war relied on 19th-century techniques.
The First World War saw the capabilities of rail and horse-drawn supply stretched to their limits. The German Army had an initially successful spring offensive in 1918 devolve into utter failure when the logistics failed to keep up with the army’s advance over the destroyed landscape. The failure of Operation Micahel was the final nail in the coffin for the Central Powers.
The Second World War saw an increase in mechanization with the widespread usage of trucks replacing horse-drawn supply lines. While they require better roadways they are much faster than their animal counterparts. The lack of infrastructure and climate greatly affected the logistics of any troop movements in the North African Campaign, Burma, and elsewhere. Germany’s invasion of the USSR, Operation Barbarossa, lost momentum due to poor logistical planning despite victories on the battlefield.
Air power targeting supply lines, submarines attacking shipping, and the island-hopping campaigns of the Pacific Theater made logistical planning a vital part in the Allied victory in the war on all fronts.
Modern military logistics is now a high tech field with predictive forecasting, operations research, and the most efficient means to get the supplies where they need to be. Technology coupled with a global playing field has made the task even larger than before. Military logistics techniques have become widely deployed in the commercial world and vice-versa.
Conflicts, resources, and technology continue to evolve and so will the need to supply armies in the field. Military logistics is a key component in any fighting force on the planet. As often seen throughout history the victor is typically the one that can keep their troops supplied.
The last-mile delivery is a key part of a supply chain process, for both B2B and B2C businesses. It leaves the final impression about your company in the customer’s mind, so outlining the right last-mile strategy is very important.
What is the last-mile delivery?
Last-mile delivery involves transporting freight from a transportation hub to the customer’s home or company’s warehouse. It is considered the most expensive and inefficient component of shipping and may consume from 20 to 30 percent of general shipping costs. Regardless of your transportation management level, neglecting a last-mile delivery strategy can disrupt the shipment and lead to unforeseen expenses.
How to optimize the last mile?
Optimizing last-mile delivery can be complicated and difficult for both small and large businesses. This happens because of many circumstances that are very hard to manage, such as recipients that aren’t home/present, delays, and misuse of tracking technologies. There are certain applicable ways to improve the quality and speed of delivery as much as possible.
Before seeking a solution, you have to determine the problem. Review your last mile tactics and define the weak spots. It may be an outdated tracking system, poor review of drivers and pickers, and other features that impact the shipping process. Create a plan of action considering all the elements that require modifications.
Proper management of human resources
Technology and innovation help improve the company’s performance a lot, but people still do the main job. Humans tend to make mistakes and fall under uncontrollable circumstances, so a specific overview will let you define the drawbacks and fix them.
Implementing real-time tracking and automation
The analysis of shipment transit and new technology helps to optimize routes as much as possible and decreases the occurrence of delays. It is also crucial to provide final recipients with access to shipment tracking, as it notifies them approximately when the freight is going to arrive at the destination.
Seeking innovative solutions
The challenge of tackling last-mile delivery has come into the spotlight in recent years. New companies, narrowly specialized in delivering solutions for the final link of shipping, offer different services and strategies that can help businesses optimize the last-mile delivery process. Vehicle manufacturers also noticed the problem and focused on creating automated trucks specifically for the last mile delivery. For instance, Renault and Mercedes recently presented autonomous delivery vans, developed for the efficiency of end-to-end shipping.
It becomes more and more important to recognize the role of last-mile delivery, so tackling the right strategy might be reasonable for your supply chain efficiency. There are plenty of possibilities to improve the performance and ship the way your customers want. Keep up with the trends and constantly apply new solutions to your business practices to help ensure successful last-mile delivery.
In today’s global economy, customers set the bar of what is considered quality service or what is a good brand. In any business, a customer’s experience determines the reputation of the company, and the logistics industry is not an exception.
The bigger your business is, the more complex your supply chain gets. It can be hard to maintain perfect customer service because everyone involved in the shipping process is constantly affecting a company’s reputation through customer experience. In client service, it’s impossible to be perfect, but it is possible to be better and provide your customers with the best service possible. Customers want to have a smooth, easy experience when working with a company. It is up to the company on how good that service can be delivered.
If you are striving to build long-term relationships with your customers and gain their loyalty, you should consider shifting from product-oriented strategy to customer-focused one. Here are some useful tips on how to take customer service to the next level:
Choose the tools and partners accurately. No matter what strategies and technologies you use, there is always a human factor present. That’s the reason why choosing partners properly will enhance your customers’ experience. If you are outsourcing your logistics to a 3PL provider, make sure they have skilled and professional brokers and a network of experienced and reviewed carriers. Such services offer logistics management from A to Z and will take most of the hassle away. But as you select a key link in your logistics, you should invest time researching how to pick the best third-party logistics provider.
Transparency and personal approach. Try to make the process as easy as possible for the customer. Supply chain visibility will reduce the time your client’s spending on shipping, therefore improving the overall experience they get from working with you. Transparency involves not only shipment tracking but also the option to compare available prices, services and understand how they work without any trouble. The more personalized approach you provide, the higher your chances are to retain customers. Send tracking updates and reports to customer to keep them in the loop, ranging from shipment transits to weather reminders. This strengthens your company’s credibility and simplifies the process for your customers.
Establish the last mile delivery. This is a final and crucial element in the transportation process and obviously demands more concentration. The last stage of delivery is the most vulnerable to mistakes or damages that may occur due to different reasons. To reduce the likelihood of such circumstances, assure that everything goes the way it should.
Provide feedback. No matter what issue took place, the response should be swift and intended to solve the customer’s problem, or at least to figure out what is the issue. Businesses should invest more in their staff training to reduce the chance of errors while interacting with customers. Solving problems that occurred on behalf of your company can make a big difference in a customer’s experience with your company. Many 3PL companies provide customer service and can help their customers simplify this complicated process.
Technology & analysis. Don’t underestimate the power of data: new technologies let businesses track every step of the customer, existing or potential. Knowing the deep insights of your audience leads to better performance, updated strategies, and better service. Such innovations like transportation management systems, tracking devices and CRM systems let businesses study customer’s behavior and improve marketing strategies. So, researching and analyzing big data is the best way to achieve a better understanding of customers’ demands.
After all, you can reach your goals and improve the service when you are always up to date with new technologies and industry renovations.
As digitalization takes over the world, there is a raging demand for transferring loads of data to cloud storage. The transportation industry is no exception, considering the exponential growth of the e-commerce sector. Logistics companies and businesses are constantly working to stay ahead of new industry trends and technology but may often overlook one important aspect that is becoming a crucial part of the logistics industry – supply chain security, and cybersecurity in particular.
Cybersecurity in the supply chain
The consequences of cyber attacks on a business can be devastating: taking data into hostage for a money refund, digital infections that can immediately destroy all information, breaking the supply chain and causing money loss. Many logistics companies should consider shifting their focus on data security to provide their customers with the safest transportation solution.
Although it is impossible to provide 100 percent protection against digital threats, there are many different ways companies can significantly raise the state of their cybersecurity. Not all of the cases of cyber attacks occur due to crime. A survey by the 2013 Trustwave Global Security Report says that 25% of digital infections turn out to be unintentional and can be caused by employees, suppliers, system errors, or other internal factors. Accordingly, the intensification of cybersecurity doesn’t mean investing in IT alone. Companies should take a step in developing high-quality risk management strategies and train their employees to identify potential threats and avoid these types of situations. Companies can take precautions to help ensure their data safety.
How to improve supply chain security?
Working staff must be highly aware of what potential cyber interfering looks like. Opening suspicious attachments from unknown users, answering uncertain emails and phone calls, inserting untested USB memory sticks – every employee should keep an eye out and watch their own actions carefully.
Software and firewalls
Using only tested, up-to-date software with a strong security system that provides password safety, a complex chain of authentication and user control will help aid in a company’s data protection. Regular data back-ups to external servers is also a great strategy to help save data in the case of a cyber-attack.
Investing in a cybersecurity expert
According to Gartner Survey, only 65 percent of companies have a cybersecurity specialist. Bringing on a skilled technician to constantly test software and protection systems can keep the company ahead of possible cyber-attacks.
Implementing long-term, well-operated strategies to reduce the possibility of malware invasion is crucial in a company’s cybersecurity plan.
In the end, no one is 100% safe from possible hacker attacks. If your company hasn’t developed a plan to help ensure cybersecurity, you should consider doing so to protect the company as a whole.
From drones for online fulfillment to mobile robots in warehouses, the current supply chain is undergoing a major transformation. With the extensive possibilities in AI, the future supply chain holds the promise of being completely autonomous and self-sustaining.
The supply chain of tomorrow will be more efficient, faster and most importantly, self-orchestrated. This unique transformation will be driven by a few essential technologies that will carefully and strategically be adopted by industry participants over the next 15-20 years. Here are a few changes that will likely automize the supply chain in the future.
Drones are currently getting a lot of attention in the supply chain news and have stirred up a lot of conversation since Amazon announced its plans to launch drones for last-mile deliveries. Before drones came the experimentation with the first “vehicles” to become autonomous in the supply chain – forklifts. A new type of forklift, called “vision-guided fully autonomous mobile robots,” has the ability to process orders four times faster than a human.
The possibility of fleets becoming completely autonomous seems very real. Truck platooning and autonomous trucks could be a reality by 2030. Rolls Royce has even announced plans to launch autonomous cargo by 2030. One benefit of this is truck platooning, for example, which could save as much as 20 percent on fuel costs.
Growth in e-commerce, along with new and evolving technologies, will bring in new solutions for freight and logistics firms. The introduction of digitalization in trucking will force traditional freight brokers to move their business model toward mobile-based, freight brokerage-type solutions. Mobile apps are critical to a seamless, real-time brokerage system, also known as the “uber of trucking.”
One big example of this is Amazon. Amazon wants to ship your products even before you know you want them. Their current patent on “anticipatory shipping” demonstrates a strategy where Amazon will send out deliveries to partial street addresses or zip codes to get the products as close as possible to the consumer and then in-transit complete the address and route it to someone who has placed the order.
To meet this new world of demand, freight and logistics supply chain players should understand the ways different new technologies and practices are evolving. And just as importantly, they should master the timing. Knowing the stages of change that lie ahead for the market as a whole may be the key to knowing which investments to make at which time.
Pressure to push sustainability into the supply chain has significantly increased in recent years. Having a sustainable supply chain is quickly becoming a necessary part of every business model.
By managing and improving economic, social and environmental performance throughout supply chains, companies can cut back on the waste of resources, optimize processes, uncover product innovations, save costs, increase productivity and promote corporate values. Research shows the business case for supply chain sustainability is growing.
Incorporating sustainability into a company’s supply chain can be complex, but the failure to act may be the biggest risk of all. Here are 4 tips for companies to move toward sustainable supply chains:
1. Map Your Supply Chain
Make sure that you fully understand the unique challenges your company and your suppliers face. Many companies do not have a good understanding of the environmental impacts of their supply chain. A way for companies to get started on being more sustainable is to inventory suppliers, identify the most significant environmental and social challenges they have and prioritize efforts with suppliers.
2. Communicate Expectations
Focusing on sustainability within your supply chain is a great way to communicate corporate values and culture to your suppliers and customers. Establishing and communicating expectations through a supplier code of conduct is a critical step in involving suppliers in your sustainability efforts.
3. Develop Training and Capacity Building Programs
This is an important step in improving sustainability and driving behavioral changes throughout your supply chain. Many external resources are available to support these efforts, and some are tailored to specific sector needs.
4. Join Industry Collaboration
Many companies recognize that complex supply chain challenges cannot be solved by individual efforts and that industry wide collaboration is required. These collaborations help prevent audit fatigue, training redundancy and mountains of paperwork for suppliers working to meet similar requirements from their customers. Working with your industry peers is a great way to share knowledge about the sustainability performance of your suppliers.
Strengthening the industry’s sustainability efforts as a whole, in turn, benefits each company within it individually. The sooner you establish a sustainable supply chain, the better, as the benefits and requirements to do so will only continue to grow as time goes on.
PLS Logistics Blog
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