We’re Celebrating 15 Years!

This week ushers in the start to the second half of the year, and also marks an important milestone for our company that we’re very proud of reaching: our 15th year anniversary. Over the last 15 years, we’ve seen the transportation industry change and evolve.

We base our success on being a passionate and values-driven organization that’s determined to deliver both rapid return on investment and consistent value to our customer base. We take this opportunity to thank our customers and our talented employees for letting us grow and thrive over the last 15 years. We look forward to what the next 15 will bring!

Anniversary Infographic

To learn more about Transplace, visit www.transplace.com

Congratulations to Our 2015 Carrier of the Year Award Winners!

Last month at our Shipper Symposium, we took some time to recognize a few of the transportation service providers that are the best of the best with our Carrier of the Year Awards. We’re always excited to be able to present these awards, as they recognize those providers with strong, collaborative relationships, consistent high performance and truly exemplary on-time service.

The selection criteria for these awards are data-centric, based on companywide quantitative data as well as survey feedback from supported customers. Some specific areas that are important in the selection process include on-time service, tender acceptance, claims and EPA SmartWay partnership. Additionally, ease of doing business factors such as responsiveness and customer service are also key elements under consideration.

This year, we recognized a total of 19 service providers in a number of various categories and these stellar companies represent the top one percent of our carrier base across all lines of business.

Keep reading to find out the winners of our 2015 Carrier of the Year Awards!

Carrier Winner Image

Congratulations to all of our winners!

Click here to learn more about our Carrier opportunities.

Shipper Symposium Snippets: 2015 Edition!

We definitely think that luck was on our side for the 13th Annual Shipper Symposium! This year, we wanted to bring together some of the brightest minds in the industry and showcase some of the boldest transportation strategies. And considering how many leading industry experts, analysts, academics and practitioners gathered at the Four Seasons in Dallas in early May, we certainly did just that! We had an amazing time connecting our customers and partners with each other, as well as listening to a number of insightful speakers discuss both strategic business solutions and current trends that have a worldwide impact on the transportation of goods.

We walked away with many great ideas for a strong transportation future. Since we learned so much from the speakers this year, we wanted to share some of the key moments that really got us thinking.

The infographic below showcases some of the standout quotes from Shipper Symposium 2015. Read on for some fantastic Symposium snippets, and let us know which one is your favorite!

077_SS-Quote-Infographic_final

Be sure to save the date for our 14th Annual Shipper Symposium, taking place May 9th – 11th in beautiful San Antonio!

What did you think of the speakers at Shipper Symposium 2015? Which quote was your favorite?

Transportation TIP List – May 2015

With summer right around the corner, we’re seeing a number of transportation topics heating up! Over the past month, many of the top stories had to do with the trucking industry. From transportation management and autonomous vehicles to capacity concerns and fuel innovations, these stories will catch you up on the current state of trucking and let you know where it’s headed.

Read on for this month’s TIP list!

1.  Annual U.S. Trucking Revenue Tops $700 Billion for First Time: U.S. trucking companies of all types generated a combined $700.4 billion in revenue last year, fueled by economic growth that led to higher freight demand and higher rates. As an industry, trucking broke past the $700 billion revenue mark in the U.S. for the first time.

2.  First Legally Licensed Autonomous-Driving Truck in US Unveiled: Freightliner Trucks has received the first license in the U.S. for an autonomous-driving truck to operate on public highways from Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. Sandoval hailed the occasion as “a historic day in the areas of transportation and innovation” and a “monumental day for the human race.”

3.  Intermodal Shippers Hungry for More Service, Capacity, Pricing: Nobody wants to be the one to ask, but today’s intermodal customers are looking for more capacity, more service and more (better) pricing. Today, within the intermodal industry, fear about the future is widespread, with many worrying that 2015 may be the year that growth slows due to insufficient capacity resulting from equipment shortages and abysmal service.

4.  Intermodal Industrial Facilities Capture Investor Attention: E-commerce growth and port traffic troubles have dominated the news in the industrial sector this year, and intermodal properties have been expanding steadily to meet new demand. Thirty intermodal parks have opened since 2000, with 19 of those opening in the past seven years, and investors are now collecting premium rents for intermodal properties located near large container-stacking facilities.

5.  The Future of Manufacturing: Sensors, 3-D Printers, and Data Science: According to a new study, factories are the next fertile ground for the “Internet of Things.” Over the next 10 years, factories and manufacturing facilities will worry less about buying new equipment and more about outfitting their spaces with an array of high-tech sensors and routers.

6.  Energy Woes Spreading to the Manufacturing Sector: A survey of regional manufacturers showed activity and expectations declined sharply over the past month, with both reaching their lowest levels since the depths of the Great Recession in 2009. One survey respondent said the near 50 percent fall of oil prices was hurting business, and factories in that region saw sharper declines as exports fell further and energy-related producers saw another drop in orders.

7.  The Tracking Trend: More consumers are opting for tracked delivery when shopping, and this trend highlights the importance of meeting the delivery service needs and expectations of today’s customers. Previously, when shopping online, consumers were limited in their choice of delivery service, but brands are realizing that in order to attract and, more crucially, keep customers, they need to offer the right delivery choices.

8.  Consumers Triggering Major Changes in Retail Supply Chains: Retail supply chains are being driven by customer demands more than ever, a logistics executive at Office Depot Inc. says, with “far more educated” consumers pressing companies toward customization, transparency and tailored delivery. As a result, these companies will have to adapt to a number of broad trends.

9.  How The Transportation Sector Is Moving Away from Petroleum: The transportation sector is moving away from oil slowly but surely. Driven by growth in the use of biofuels and natural gas, non-petroleum energy now makes up the highest percentage of total fuel consumption for transport since 1954, according to a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

10.  Successful Supply Chain Transformation Is Like a Carefully Engineered Highway Project: Supply chain transformation projects are like large highway infrastructure projects. During supply chain transformation, customers expect deliveries, suppliers to continue to deliver, competitors to announce promotions and shareholders to dial into earning calls. But during a transformation initiative, the supply chain undergoes an irreversible structural change.

What’s on your TIP List this month? Did we miss anything you thought was important?

Excellence is Part of Our Core

By: George Abernathy, President & Chief Commercial Officer, Transplace

Our company is built upon excellence. Not only do we believe in delivering it to customers, but our employees also embody it on a daily basis. It’s an important commitment we make here at Transplace – so much so, that we’ve made it a core part of our mission statement: To achieve supply chain excellence for our customers.

We’re determined to thrill our customers and exceed expectations. We accomplish this through our people, processes, technology and scale. Many of the largest manufacturers, retailers and distributors trust Transplace to manage billions of dollars of freight spend annually. This pushes us to constantly seek growth and advancement as well as partner closely with our customers to drive continuous improvement throughout their organizations. In addition, Transplace strives to go beyond just being a transactional services provider to develop deeper, collaborative partnerships with customers through our Strategic Account Management program. We make investments in infrastructure and technology, process improvement through Lean Six Sigma, and strategically important is our commitment and investment in human capital, which allows us to bring in the industry’s best and brightest supply chain practitioners as well as develop young talent through our Professional Development Program.

By establishing quarterly business reviews and a customer advisory board we’re able to solicit insightful feedback for continuously improving our processes, tools and services to provide greater benefits to our customers. In addition, we see the pay-off of our dedication to excellence through our customer renewals and expansions, new customer engagements and industry recognition and awards.

While awards and industry recognition is nice to receive, attaining one in particular means a great deal to Transplace because it’s voted on by you—our customers. This award is the Inbound Logistics annual “Top 10 3PL Providers” list, which recognizes the service providers that are “best equipped to meet and surpass readers’ evolving outsourcing needs.” We’ve been honored to have appeared on this list 12 years in a row, and last year proved to be our highest ranking ever at 2nd place.   We’re striving to keep improving our position by delivering even greater value to our customers through our unique and continuously improved offering.

We couldn’t have received this continued recognition without the excellence our fantastic Transplace team is providing and certainly without the backing from our invaluable customers. Thank you for your unwavering dedication and support.

This year we hope to make it lucky number 13 of being named a Top 3PL and snag the prime position of being recognized as the leader in the industry by Inbound Logistics. When it comes to excellence, it’s at our core and our customers can count on that.

If you haven’t already, we hope that you vote for Transplace!

Let us know what you think makes a great 3PL.

Learn more about Transplace advantages being delivered to customers by visiting https://www.transplace.com/advantages/

Growth and Improvements in the Mexico Rail Network

By: Carlos Godinez, Director, Mexico Intermodal, Transplace and Iker de Luisa, Director General, Asociación Mexicana de Ferrocarriles A.C.

Carlos Godinez

Iker De Luisa

Twenty years ago, there was only one railroad in Mexico, which was run by a public agency and broken into three regional classes. At that time, there needed to be tremendous improvements to rail service, engines and cars, and to key infrastructure such as bridges and tracks. Then in 1995, the Mexican government announced that a railroad privatization project would begin.

The private railroad companies that now manage the railroad lines currently have a 50-year concession from the federal government to operate them (while the land that the railroads operate on is still government property). With the private sector’s takeover of railroad operations, dedicated investments started to make real improvements to the entire system. And to date, over 5 Billion U.S. dollars from these private companies have been invested into the Mexican rail system.

Today, the Mexican rail system is expansive and highly efficient. It is currently the best railway system in Latin America in terms of train productivity, and is certainly comparable to other systems around the world. Through private investments, the entire supply chain has been improved. For example, terminals, inland ports and customs facilities have all become much more efficient in the past few years, incorporating electronic systems to speed up processes.

The system is also fully compatible with the U.S. and Canada, with the same standards for both operating the railroads and for building and maintaining them. Thousands of rail cars cross the borders between the U.S., Canada and Mexico each day using this efficient North American/Latin American rail network.

Industry Opens Up Intermodal Opportunities

Rail transportation, including bulk, general cargo and intermodal, has been a key factor in the expansion of trade between the U.S. and Mexico. Currently, the automotive industry and the opportunity for truck to intermodal conversion for non-auto industries are the two highest growth areas for the railroads in Mexico, and are making a significant impact on the system.

  • The automotive industry, which includes all of the parts and components that are manufactured in Mexico and then exported to the U.S., is a very large market, and has paved the way for other market growth in other industries. For example, manufacturers and suppliers of floor tiles and home appliances are taking advantage of these efficient rail options and routes already established by the automotive industry.
  • Intermodal has also helped grow the rail network in Mexico, and the already vast intermodal networks throughout North America are continuing to expand. Intermodal succeeds in imbalanced markets, and there is still a large capacity for additional truck freight to be converted to intermodal. The ideal eventual evolution of the supply chain would bring more cargo from over-the-road (OTR) to intermodal — we estimate at least one million loads a year. With the current rail network system in North America, there is no single big market in the US, Canada or Mexico that could not be served by an intermodal ramp. Importers and exporters can now receive the benefits of intermodal regardless of their size and industry. Additionally, there were Mexican government programs recently put in place to clear commodities that were previously banned to run on trains and be cleared in a Mexican interior bonded terminal. This will open up new opportunities for intermodal transport benefits.

What Does the Future Bring?

Because of the intermodal boom, there has been a significant investment not only in the Mexican railways, but also in cross-border operations. Intermodal has been a great savings and capacity solution for many cross-border shippers – particularly in light of recent capacity and driver shortages – and no one is expecting traffic across the Mexico-U.S. border to slow down anytime soon. And due to this recent growth and the value-added benefits of intermodal, there will be continuous investments in terms of new corridors, more service options and new terminals.

Investments in better processes, connectivity and operations will continue to increase capacity, expand intermodal ramp operations, improve service and increase train speed within the growing Mexican railroad network. This, combined with the improvements made over the past 20 years, are making rail and intermodal a sustainable, viable and long-term transportation solution for both cross border and intra-Mexico supply chains.

How does rail infrastructure impact your transportation strategy?

Learn more about shipping and transportation opportunities across the U.S.-Mexico border here.

Combating Refrigerated Capacity Restraints: Relationships Can Help!

By: Jay Moss, President, Capacity Services and Jim Matt, Director of Sales, Capacity Services

Jay Moss
Jay Moss

Jim Matt Jim Matt

Capacity is a word that is constantly on our minds. Is there enough capacity available to handle my freight? Will capacity continue to tighten? What strategies can my organization implement to prepare for and actively cope with a capacity shortage?

From 2004 to 2008, shippers experienced a significant capacity crunch, and in 2009 to 2012, the economic downturn drove many trucking companies out of business while a shortage of over-the-road (OTR) truck drivers remained. The market has since partially bounced back, and 2014 was a profitable year for trucking.  However, more recently, it was expected that overall trucking rates would go down as oil and fuel prices decreased – but that hasn’t been the case, particularly in the refrigerated trucking sector.

The current volatility in the trucking market has become a serious concern for many companies – there hasn’t been such volatility in quite some time. Right now, there is a significant lack of refrigerated truckload capacity, and all those in the market are actively competing for the limited refrigerated capacity that is available.

Regulatory Changes and Driver Shortages Continue

The current driver shortage is a major factor adding to the problem, and one that the trucking industry is going to continue to struggle with in the coming years. Additionally, regulatory changes continue to reduce productivity (3-5% by most industry estimates), and further take drivers off of the road. As capacity continues to be an issue for shippers, regulations will only further exacerbate the problem, while also driving up prices from the carriers, which will eventually be passed on to consumers.

The most recent driver shortage has been particularly difficult because the market is seeing a different generation of long-haul trucking – fewer drivers are willing to spend multiple weeks on the road, and most are pursuing more regional opportunities. And truck drivers for refrigerated units are a specialized position, and therefore even more scarce.

As a result of all of these problematic changes, retailers and CPG companies are experiencing some of the highest freight costs they’ve seen in recent history, and it’s become critical for shippers to strategically plan for these challenges to ensure access to truck capacity and avoid disruptions in the transportation of goods.

Relationships Matter More Than Ever

In a specialized market such as refrigerated trucking, relationships mean more now than ever before – a good relationship between a shipper and carrier can and will transcend any market volatility. Carriers, just like shippers, are always looking for ways to improve efficiency and streamline their operations, which includes being consistently mindful of the companies they work with and keeping detailed metrics for their shipper partners.

Recent history has shown that outcomes can sometime be disastrous when long-term relationships are sacrificed over price. And with all of the unpredictable factors that can impact transportation, capacity shortages in the refrigerated sector continue to be a matter of when, not if. It is imperative that shippers be proactive in implementing strategies that create an agile supply chain able to adapt to changes in the market and maintain efficient operations during capacity shortages.

What is your organization doing to combat capacity restraints? What relationships have been beneficial during the capacity shortage?

Transportation TIP List – April 2015

Having concluded our 13th annual Shipper Symposium earlier this week, we noticed many of the current trending topics in the transportation industry that we’ve highlighted below were key themes of debate throughout the event. Over the last month, many of the top stories we’ve seen have us asking where the industry is headed in the near future and over the long term. From the Internet of Things and the future of retail to the capacity crunch and oil prices, there are many burning questions about the future of transportation and logistics! Check out this month’s TIP list below and let us know if you have any bold predictions.

1.       DOT Unveils New Version of GROW AMERICA Act: The U.S DOT introduced The GROW AMERICA Act, a six-year, $478 million transportation reauthorization bill. This legislation would replace the current authorization, MA-21, whose most recent continuing extension is set to expire at the end of May.

2.       U.S. Ports See Costly Delays as Cargo Ships, Volumes Grow: Congestion is becoming increasingly common at major U.S. ports — a problem that could have profound implications for the $900 billion worth of goods transported to and from the U.S. each year by container ships.

3.       U.S. Truck Driver Shortage Getting Worse, Turnover Figures Show: The U.S. truck driver shortage is getting worse, despite increases in driver pay and redoubled hiring and retention efforts by for-hire trucking companies. In fact, the driver turnover rate at large truckload companies has been stuck at 90% or higher since 2012.

4.       Shippers, Enjoy the Truck Capacity While it Lasts: Shippers are experiencing a period of relative tranquility on the trucking front — although contract rates have been rising because of cost pressures such as increasing driver pay, lower fuel surcharges have gone a long way toward cushioning the blow. However, shippers must keep sight of the fact that this calm won’t last long.

5.       Internet of Things Will Deliver $1.9 Trillion Boost to Supply Chain & Logistics Operations: A new Trend Report concludes that the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) offers “huge potential for more efficient and transparent supply chains.” The report estimates that there will be 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, compared to 15 billion today, which could unlock higher levels of operational efficiency.

6.       3 Ways the IoT Will Transform Manufacturing Processes: Preparing your manufacturing supply chain to take advantage of the Internet of Things means getting your centralized visibility platform in place to handle the IoT’s big data, which will in turn transform manufacturing processes in a number of ways.

7.       Retail Logistics of 2020 – I Want It Now: The last few decades have seen a major shift in customer behavior, with the explosion of ecommerce forever changing how retailers logistically manage and deliver products to their customers — and the next five years are poised for still more disruptive change.

8.       Amazon Creates Potential Edge for Major CPG Brands: Amazon set the Internet aflutter when it announced its latest digital innovation, the Dash Button. Major CPG companies like P&G, Clorox, Coca-Cola and Kraft are already on board with the e-commerce giant, and it is already being said that these in-home buttons could give big CPG players the ‘leverage they’ve lacked in e-commerce.’

9.       Senators Try To Stop The Coming Oil Train Wreck: Spearheaded by the Senators from Washington State, legislation just introduced in the United States Senate will finally address the rash of crude oil train wrecks and explosions that have skyrocketed over the last two years in parallel with the steep rise in the amount of crude oil transported by rail.

10.   Congress Makes Another Attempt to Update Chemical Regulations: A new Congress means taking yet another crack at updating the 1970s law regulating U.S. chemical manufacturing, transportation and use. Bills are already in play in both the House and the Senate, and many are optimistic about seeing an agreement to update the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act this year.

What current trends have you interested in the future of the industry? Any predictions for what you think we’ll be seeing?

Shipper Symposium 2015 – Day 3 Recap

The final day of the 13th annual Shipper Symposium certainly didn’t disappoint! Attendees got off to a bright and early start (with the help of some strong coffee!) as Frank McGuigan took the stage first to welcome everyone. He took a few minutes to recognize the Transplace Customer Advisory Board (CAB) members, thanking them for all of their years of great service and support, and presented an award to AutoZone recognizing and thanking this customer for 20 years of service. Frank then introduced CEO Tom Sanderson, who also brought Thomas Albrecht, CFA and Managing Director of BB&T Capital Markets, to the stage. Dubbing themselves “Tom and Thom in the Morning,” the duo discussed all things capacity related, including winning and losing transportation modes. A few key takeaways from their conversation included:

  • Capacity tightness is certainly coming. It’s important to take advantage of shifting truckload to intermodal as a way to deal with this. For example, east of the Rockies, there’s a huge amount of long-haul freight that could still be converted.
  • The driver shortage is still a problem. The driver population is getting older, and the job has become unappealing to younger workers, in part due to wages, which have gone down significantly in the last 40 years, and due to the difficult lifestyle.
  • Changes to the hours of service (HOS) have had a significant impact to many different segments of the industry (upwards of 8%), which is much greater than the “conventional wisdom” of only 3%.
  • The rate and growth of ecommerce is undeniable. Online retails sales are up 21%, and brick and mortar stores just aren’t what they used to be.

Closing keynote speaker, David Malpass, then took the main stage to discuss the current economy and the upcoming economic outlook. He noted that the economy is experiencing slow growth and thinks that this growth can be sustainable for a majority of the US economy. What could help the US economy? David suggested that if the Fed would raise rates, borrow more from the non-bank sector and pay back some of the banks owed from borrowing during the Great Recession, we could see a “kickstart” to the economy.

A very healthy Q&A session followed David’s talk, and attendees were ready to ask some hard economic questions. Questions for the economist spanned healthcare reform, the minimum wage, taxes and the federal debt. A big thanks to David for taking on all those tough questions with such eloquence!

And that’s a wrap on our 13th Shipper Symposium! A HUGE thank you to all of the attendees and speakers who have and continue to keep the transportation and logistics industry moving in the right direction. It was truly incredible to hear all of your great insights and see you engaging, sharing and learning throughout the entire event. We look forward to seeing you all next year at our 14th Annual Shipper Symposium taking place May 9th – 11th in beautiful San Antonio!

What was your favorite moment from this year’s Shipper Symposium?  What would you like to see more of next year?

Shipper Symposium 2015 – Day 2 Recap

The 13th annual Shipper Symposium was in full swing on Day 2, getting started with a business update on Supply Chain Consulting from Brooks Bentz. Brooks discussed his goal of building the strongest possible group of supply chain professionals, while keeping in mind that, “consulting is a team sport!” He highlighted how changes in the market are constantly occurring, and since shippers and carriers live in a state of permanent volatility, they need to be very agile as well as responsive. His final thought stressed amping up technology and emphasized how utilizing data and information is truly critical to meet today’s market needs.

After the business update, it was Tim Solso’s turn to take the main stage, and he offered his insight on effective business leadership. Tim spent nine years in personnel (HR), and in that role, he saw “the good, the bad, and the ugly” in leadership, and learned exactly what good qualities in leaders are. He pointed out that “the common denominator in business is leadership – this is what makes a company great over the long term.” He also highlighted how to create the right environment as a leader, the various roles of leadership as well as critical leadership responsibilities and qualities. According to Tim, “The role of a leader is personal involvement. Get to know your people, and be involved in selection, evaluation and coaching. Be in the game!”

Day 2 also provided some great breakout sessions spanning a number of insightful, top of mind topics – from the Food Safety Modernization Act, and cross-border challenges to capacity and sourcing issues, as well as the carrier’s perspective on efficiency strategies. Over the networking lunch, many attendees made it outside to check out a very cool sight – the Peterbilt “SuperTruck!” Just take a look at the size of that bold, aerodynamic beauty!

Helping to thwart any sort of after-lunch food comas was a surprise special visitor – a drone!  Hovering over their heads with a camera to showcase a great aerial view, the drone set up a fantastic discussion on the “Futuristic Supply Chain”, which focused on 3D printing, drones and driverless trucks. Brent Hankins, Advanced Concept Lead Engineering at Peterblit, and Dan McCarthy, VP of Operations at Solidscape, discussed respectively the future of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS, or autonomous vehicles), as well as the current roadmap for how 3D printing is going to be (positively!) affecting the supply chain of the future. One of the key takeaways came from moderator Adrian Gonzalez who highlighted a truly bright future: “Whatever we talk about here today, if we were to reconvene in 5 or 10 years, it would be very different. These technologies evolve incredibly quickly and will go beyond what we can even think about today.”

Last, but certainly not least, was speaker Dr. James Maas, who kept our attendees engaged and humored. Focusing his talk on, “Sleep for Success!”, Dr. Maas explained that most of us are moderately to severely sleep deprived – in fact, 71% of people do not meet the recommended 7.5 to 9.25 hours per night. It turns out that if you get more and better sleep, you’ll be healthier, in a better mood and get more done!  By the end of the session, attendees truly understood just how critical it is for top executives (and everyone else!) to take sleep much more seriously.

We ended the night right with a charity auction dinner, where attendees got the chance to enjoy great food and great company, all while supporting a truly wonderful cause! Proceeds from the dinner benefited the Strike 3 Foundation and Earth University.

We look forward to what our final day of Shipper Symposium will bring. You can catch it all here! And stay up-to-date on all things Shipper Symposium by following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, or join the conversation by using #TPSS15!

What was your favorite moment from Day 2 of Shipper Symposium?