Transportation TIP List: Week of May 14, 2017

Although we concluded our 15th annual Shipper Symposium last week, we still have the most essential trends impacting the transportation industry on our minds. During the event, we heard from demographers, economists and other leaders on the most pressing industry issues – and this week’s TIP List continues that learning, covering the future of Amazon shipments, the influence of blockchain on the supply chain and NAFTA’s impact on manufacturing in Mexico.

  • Welcome to the Amazon Jungle, Truckers: Truckload carriers have something to look forward to in the near term, but looking a little further down the road, Thom Albrecht tossed around terms like “decimate,” “destroy,” “profound impact,” “seismic changes” and “the whole world is going to turn upside down.”
  • How Blockchain is Transforming the Supply Chain: Blockchain, the decentralized record book that underpins Bitcoin, can be used to create a digital ledger designed to trace and verify certification of diamonds. Blockchain’s application to this and other luxury goods has those in nearly every industry excited by its potential.
  • Robotics Market in North America Surges 32%: North American robotics companies posted the strongest ever first-quarter results, according to the industry’s trade group. An all-time high total of 9,773 robots valued at approximately $516 million were ordered from North American robotics companies during the first quarter of 2017.
  • April Jobs Report Hints at Growth in Logistics Industry: Parcel carriers and delivery firms, which scaled back hiring in March, added 3,200 courier and messenger positions last month; and the warehousing and storage sector, which includes sprawling fulfillment centers that process online orders, added 2,500 jobs.

What industry trends did you find most captivating at this year’s Shipper Symposium?

Summing Up Shipper Symposium 2017

Our 15th annual Shipper Symposium wrapped up last week in beautiful Austin, and wow – what a fantastic event! Given the line-up of speakers, activities and attendees – we’re pretty confident that this one has been the best yet. A very BIG thank you to all the customers, carriers, partners and speakers who came and contributed to this year’s event. We hope you enjoyed it and got as much value out of it as we did.



Bright and early on Tuesday morning, Frank McGuigan, President and COO of Transplace, warmly welcomed attendees and spent time highlighting the company’s recent strategic growth and focus on building competitive advantage for us and for our customers. He then introduced the day’s first keynote speaker, Ken Gronbach, for his presentation, “Charting the Course Through Demographic Change.”



Ken spoke about how the world is changing, and how knowing the facts about demographics can be invaluable when looking at industry trends and markets. He noted that the people that are going to shape our demographic future 50 years from now are already born. According to Ken: “The future is not a mystery with the power of shifting demography!”



Attendees were then treated to a host of insightful breakout sessions. Here are just a few of the highlights!

• In “Why Partnership and Collaboration is Critical to Supply Chain Transformation,” John Walch from BASF presented many of the benefits of partnerships within his organization. He walked through BASF’s journey with Transplace as a partner, and through the steps they took together toward improvement across the board, noting that, “It’s not only important for us to have a clear vision as the customer, but for the provider to have a clear vision as well and make decisions accordingly.”



• In “Strategies to Deliver Against Rising Retailer Expectations,” USG’s Craig Boroughf noted that what many customers really want to know is: when do we know a load is going to fail, when is the soonest possible moment to find out and what are we doing about it? His hypothesis is that the supply chain is getting more efficient and supply chain people are very bright, which leads to answering this question much more quickly and efficiently. According to Craig, “The biggest benefit we can deliver for shippers is for us to be agile and responsive – and anticipate what those customers’ needs are and set the bar higher. The more agile we can be, the better partner we can be.”

• In “What’s Next on the Transplace IT Roadmap,” Transplace CTO Mike Dieter described how, in the logistics world, predictive analytics is where we want to go. Regarding Transplace’s technology for supply chain visibility and predictive analytics Mike said, “We don’t want you to focus on what’s on time and what’s okay. We want to show you where the problems are. Our goal is to provide data visibility and ensure the data is in your hands quickly so you can go on and do other things!”



Keynote speaker, Paul Zikopoulos took the stage to discuss data and analytics and how the “holy trinity” of social, mobile and cloud is causing massive disruption in our everyday lives. Data is everywhere and it’s being pushed to new levels by millennials, and insights from digital engagements will have a profound effect on our society. Additionally, he talked about how blockchain will disrupt the industry in an extraordinary way. He left attendees with the important question: Technology always has a valued added service, but how can we incorporate this value within your supply chain?



Attendees ended day one of Shipper Symposium with Navy Commander Mike Abrashoff, who inspired the crowd with his motivating talk on leadership. He reminded the crowd that, “We’re all leaders and we’re all captains of our own ship. At the end of the day, our success depends on our people, how well we engage them and how well we work together.”



Kicking off day two of the event, Transplace CEO, Tom Sanderson and President and COO, Frank McGuigan presented this year’s annual charity, Feeding America, with a check for $20,000! The remarkable generosity of our attendees will be helping this valuable organization continue to carry on its mission.

Frank and Tom stuck around to give a state of the business update on Transplace. Both spent time talking about the company’s growth through acquisitions and how over time they’ve continued to focus on finding companies to acquire that are close to what Transplace does and will deliver additional value to customers. Frank commented, “We’re pleased to say that business is doing well and the values we’re bringing to customers through our mission statement are bearing fruit in the marketplace.” Another big topic of discussion was about the company’s continued investment in technology and recent enhancements to Transplace’s proprietary TMS solution. Said Tom, “The investment we’re making in technology is paramount to providing continuous improvement to our customers and it will continue.”



Back by popular demand to join Tom on stage was Thom Albrecht, President, Sword & Sea Transport Advisors, and also joining the crew this year was Anette Sandberg, CEO, Transafe Consulting and former FMCSA Deputy Administrator. This panel talked through transportation trends as well as industry insight and regulation. Thom spoke first and pointed how, “Last year, we talked a lot about the burst of the commodity bubble. The good news for this year is we’re rebounding thanks to rising drilling rig counts and more pricing stability back in those commodities like wheat and copper.”

Annette took time to give a FMCSA regulation update, in which she forecasted that more than likely most current legislation won’t make too much progress over the next four years. She added, “There’s so much going on; Congress is unable to agree on nominees, much less bigger trucks.”

Tom weighed in on ELD concerns from the audience and talked about carriers having the data to go back to shippers to show dwell time. “That’s a powerful thing to show and talk about ‘Here’s what’s costing my driver,’” he added.



Closing out the day was Economist and President of ITR Economics, Alan Beaulieu.  Alan brought the fun and the data to tell the audience a story of what’s to come in the short term – “You should be feeling good about the next 12 months” – and the long term – “Prepare yourself for the Great Recession of 2030.”

Alan talked about how, “2016 unfolded the way we expected; the economy is getting better, and it’s sustainable. We’ll see growth peak the first half of 2018 and then it will start to slow down the last half of the year – leading to a mild consumer led recession in 2019.”

Additionally, he said our economy is “being lit up” by foreign direct investment, with a record number of investments coming in during the election, which he says tells us that the U.S. “is a safe bet.” And because of that more manufacturing is coming to the U.S., and that means more freight and more shipments.

While we face somewhat significant challenges ahead (i.e. healthcare, Social Security), Alan is hopeful, and he is hopeful because of one generation in particular: millennials. He said, “My biggest hope for the future is the millennials. My generation, the Baby Boomers, screwed it up so badly that that’s going to drive millennials to do things differently.” Let’s hope so.



We hope you’ll join us next year, May 8-10 in Frisco at The Star, for an educational event like no other in the transportation industry.

What did you enjoy most about this year’s Shipper Symposium? What can we improve upon next year? Leave us a comment below or connect with us on Twitter (@Transplace), Facebook and Instagram.

Shipper Symposium Series Webinar: Ocean Carrier Alliances – What You Need to Know

What used to be four primary ocean carrier alliances has now transformed into three different ocean carrier alliances, which kicked off services on April 1. The new alliances represent 77% of global container capacity and 96% of all East-West trades’ container capacity. While the changing atmosphere of new ocean carrier alliances for containerized cargo isn’t something new, thanks to a tumultuous last few years – these ocean carriers reshuffled partnerships in hopes of achieving better financial performance.

If you’re wondering which global ocean carriers have partnered and how the new alliances could affect you, register for our upcoming Shipper Symposium Series webinar, “Ocean Carrier Alliances: What You Need to Know.”

Mollie Bailey, Director of International Ocean/Air for Transplace, will talk and answer questions about these new alliances, any issues or challenges that have come up during the first month of being in service and what we expect to see in the marketplace moving forward.

Join us on Wednesday, May 17 from 12:00-1:00 CST for this informative webinar on everything you need to know about the new global ocean carrier alliances. To register, click here!

Transportation TIP List: Week of April 30, 2017

We are extremely excited for our 15th annual Shipper Symposium kicking off next week! It’s no coincidence this week’s TIP List features many of the timely transportation and supply chain topics that will be highlighted at our event. From recent news on NAFTA, to the future of TMS technology within supply chains, this week’s list is a great preview of what we’ll be covering at Shipper Symposium next week!

  • Trump Drops NAFTA Pullout Threat: The Trump administration recently said it was no longer considering pulling out of NAFTA. This was following intense lobbying from business leaders and lawmakers who rallied to quash internal White House discussion of the prospect.
  • The Best is Yet to Come With Transportation Management Systems: Industry trends such as e-commerce, omni-channel fulfillment, visibility of shipments and regulations are defining and shaping the innovation roadmap for TMS vendors. This is also fueling a new round of mergers and acquisitions and generating a new wave of startups entering the TMS market.
  • U.S. Retailers Face Growing Hostility from Suppliers: Hostility between vendors and the ailing U.S. retail industry is growing. Suppliers are becoming increasingly concerned they won’t be paid for the goods they ship, and they’re taking more aggressive steps to protect themselves.
  • U.S. Infrastructure Still at the Bottom of the Class: In 2013, the ASCE graded U.S. Infrastructure a D+. The ASCE reevaluated America’s grade this year and – not surprising to anyone in involved in transportation or supply chain – again awarded our infrastructure a dismal D+.

 Have recent conversations surrounding NAFTA impacted your supply chain operations?

TMS Talk Series | Part 1: Key Considerations When Selecting a TMS

Technology is a driver of efficiency. For shippers, a transportation management system (TMS) can be the window into a world of actionable data that can truly transform your transportation network. But when selecting a TMS provider, what are some of the things you need to know? What capabilities and functionalities should it have, and how can you best put those functionalities to work for you? Our first “TMS Talk” in this newest blog series examines some of the key considerations when selecting a TMS that’s right for your organization.

Does the TMS give you enhanced visibility into your entire supply chain?

A TMS can help logistics professionals quickly identify and execute optimization opportunities, but you need visibility into your network in order to do so effectively. With today’s TMS, shippers have a 360-degree view of their transportation network at all times, including a real-time graphical view of shipments and active KPI dashboards, such as:

  • Active shipments
  • On-time arrivals/departures
  • Carrier performance
  • DOE fuel index

The TMS should also give clear financial visibility, including access to landed cost and cost to serve, among other key financial metrics. This “control tower” approach to transportation management gives shippers a singular, all-encompassing, real-time view of their supply chain. And as a cloud application, this type of TMS provides organizations with a data center application at a significantly lower cost of ownership.

Is the data that it offers timely and actionable?

The speed of visibility into an organization’s supply chain and the timeliness of that information is critical to its success. Make sure your TMS provides the business intelligence (BI), reporting and analytics you need to make strategic, data-driven decisions. It must give your organization access to actionable data that can actually drive meaningful change; not just offer up “data for data’s sake.” The right TMS will pull in real-time, timely, accurate, and complete data from many sources.

BI tools have taken many large steps over the past few years. Historically, reports for shippers would take quite a bit of time to pull, and the end result would be made up of Excel spreadsheets. And in some cases, the data would be old and no longer relevant. However, with new TMS, databases are available specifically for shippers to access customized reports – when and where they need them. These “self-service” type of reports are much more engaging and can drill down into specific shipments, regions, lanes, carriers and more by accessing data warehouses via a cloud-based TMS.

Access to this level of intelligence and analytics provides shippers with the transparency they need to truly drive optimization within their supply chain. With your current infrastructure, do you know who is moving your freight and what the true cost is? Can you can dial into specific shipment areas that have the potential to be at risk? The amount of detailed information on a shipment matters – even down on a SKU level. If your TMS doesn’t actively (and pro-actively) provide this information, your organization is going to be falling behind.

Does it incorporate real-time web data that enables you to be proactive?

Access to data allows shippers to make better, more-informed decisions. By combining the logistics data available through the enhanced network visibility provided by a TMS with the ability to incorporate internet data, shippers can be more proactive in their decision making.

Some systems can even help predict the future and alert shippers of potential disruptions – allowing them to proactively take steps to address those disruptions in order to maintain smooth operations and high levels of customer service.

A TMS featuring software robots – a type of “web crawler” similar to what Google uses to constantly scour the internet for relevant data – can be programmed to collect status information from websites and update your system or your customer’s system. The robot can automatically go to a carrier’s website, insert an ID number and gather the latest shipment information.

Is it scalable and customizable? Do you have to pay for upgrades?

With a software-as-a-solution (SaaS) TMS application, implementation is faster than licensing in-house, making speed to market and speed to benefit also that much quicker. And with the right SaaS TMS, you don’t have to be worried about paying to upgrade or going through an upgrade process that’s a hassle.

Stay tuned here on the blog for more in our “TMS Talk” series!

What questions do you have about your TMS?

Transportation TIP List: Week of April 23rd, 2017

As this past weekend marked the observance of Earth Day, it’s only natural that we’ve been thinking about the landscape of the supply chain industry. This week’s TIP List highlights stories such as the impact of blockchain transactions on supply chains and reactions to Toyota’s release of a hydrogen fuel cell truck prototype. Get a read on the industry climate with all the articles below!

  • U.S. Shippers Expect Pinch, Not Capacity Crunch, From ELDs: With the introduction of ELDs, shippers and trucking companies are concerned about a potential loss of both capacity and productivity that could push up pricing. However, they’re not expecting a massive capacity crunch following the mandate.
  • What Drives Trucking Market Volatility? : For anyone in the trucking industry, there is one constant: change. This infographic details how natural disasters, eCommerce, weather, seasonality, trade policy, regulatory actions and the impact of driver shortages fluctuate within the trucking market.

Are you using blockchain transactions within your supply chain operations?

It’s Time to Breakout at the 15th Annual Shipper Symposium!

This year, at the 15th annual Shipper Symposium (May 8-10), we are proud to host leading supply chain, business and transportation experts to discuss issues that affect the transportation of goods across the globe. During the event, attendees can make connections and learn about the latest trends and issues faced by shippers. It’s a whole world of knowledge and thought leadership in one location!

Also throughout the event, we’re presenting a variety of breakout sessions all geared towards helping your operations run more efficiently. Here are some highlights from a few of the many great sessions you can check out!

  • Why Partnership & Collaboration is Critical to Supply Chain Transformation: John Walch and Alejandro Obelink from BASF Corporation will discuss why partner relationships and engagement is critical for their organization. John and Alejandro will provide a high-level overview of projects where collaboration with partners have been the key to success for the supply chain and discuss the myriad ways that BASF and Transplace have worked together to improve customer experience and ultimately shape BASF’s North American global strategy for success.
  • Cross-border Trade Management, Compliance & NAFTA: What You Should Know: Learn key trends and upcoming changes that are affecting the Mexican logistics market and understand the latest safety measures and security tactics that impact your business. This group of panelists will discuss customs and cross-border trade management challenges in Mexico, along with new and current regulations. Panelists will also share insight on a much-talked about topic, NAFTA, and the economic impression that it has on logistics.
  • Strategies to Deliver Against Rising Retailer Expectations: Ever-increasing requirements continue to be placed upon shippers and their logistics networks. To be able to serve a rapidly diversifying range of customers, products, markets and channels, organizations need the ability to act with agility, responsiveness and flexibility. In this session, hear from a panel of shippers who will provide strategies and best practices for meeting retailer demands and requirements and providing a seamless customer experience.

All of this year’s breakout sessions are packed with incredible insight and plenty of fun along the way. You can find all of the breakout sessions below!

Keep up with all things Shipper Symposium by following us on Twitter – @Transplace – and by using the hashtag #ShipperSymposium.

Transportation TIP List: Week of April 16th, 2017

The recent beautiful weather has us anticipating the blossoming of May flowers and the opportunity for more outdoor activities. And just as natural as the spring season, this week’s TIP List includes emerging transportation trends such as Tesla’s plan for introducing electric trucks and expected gasoline prices for this summer’s commute. See what’s blooming in all of the articles below!

  • Drivers Won’t Pay Much More at Pump This Summer: According to the Energy Information Administration, regular gasoline averaged $2.42 per gallon April 10. While prices are 35 cents higher than a year ago, they’re just 4 cents below what the EIA sees fuel averaging all summer.
  • How the Two Basic Types of ELDs Operate: All compliant ELDs can record data coming in from the system that controls the truck’s engine and component parts. However, there are two ELD options for organizations to choose from: dedicated units and BYOD.
  • Will Knight-Swift Transportation Shake Up the Trucking Industry: Phoenix-based major truckload carriers Swift Transportation and Knight Transportation recently announced that they would combine to form Knight-Swift Transportation. The new entity is set to emerge as a formidable challenger to freight-starved North American truckload carriers.

Would you consider implementing electric trucks into your supply chain?


Transportation TIP List: Week of April 9th, 2017

Although there will be plenty of opportunities to search for hidden eggs at your Easter celebration this weekend, our TIP List presents quite the opposite, as it includes this week’s most noticeable trends impacting the transportation industry. Highlighted are innovations in digital technology, the impact of legislation on the supply chain industry and manufacturing growth — check out all of the “can’t miss” articles below!

  • Supply Chains and the Trump Roller-Coaster: The first months of Trump’s presidency have added new uncertainty regarding transportation operations and raised questions as to how companies can prepare for changes in trade, taxation and investment.
  • U.S. Manufacturing Keeps Expanding at Robust Pace: America’s factories continue to expand, demonstrating momentum in an industry that has struggled over the past two years. The manufacturing index has increased in six of the last seven months, underscoring building optimism among factory managers.

 How is digital technology innovation impacting your trucking operations?


Shipper Symposium Series Webinar Recap: Bid Activity Strategies and Trends

By: Ben Cubitt, Senior Vice President, Engineering & Strategic Carrier Management, Transplace & Ratna Prabhu, Engineering Lead, Transplace

Bid optimization and procurement are truly foundational for companies to achieve supply chain excellence and drive value. Procurement process and bid activities have a significant impact on shippers and carriers, making it critical for companies to establish good sourcing practices.

In our most recent Shippers Symposium Series webinar, Ben Cubitt and Ratna Prabhu analyzed last year’s bidding market and shared some best practices for successful bidding in 2017. Below are a few of the highlights.

2016 Recap of Procurement and Bid Activities:

2016 was a record year in terms of bid activities due to an industry-wide desire to lock in rates in the anticipation of an uncertain 2017. Overall, it was a great year for shippers to go to market. With plenty of available capacity, shippers had their choice of carriers within their networks to bid on different lanes, and they were able to save money. Even as shippers were able to achieve savings, incumbent carriers were able to retain many lanes – in part due to the fact that many shippers have been willing to leave money on the table to align with core carrier partners for future capacity.



2017 Brings Bid Competition

The later part of 2017 has the potential to be more challenging for shippers than 2016 due to expectations of tighter capacity and increased pressures on rates. In addition to this general market shift, each vertical within the transportation industry faces its own challenges and opportunities during a competitive bid response. It is important for shippers to keep these factors in mind throughout the entire bid process and seek out proactive solutions in light of capacity fluctuations.

A few key examples of these specific industry vertical challenges are:

  • Consumer Packaged Goods: Challenges range from very large spends to high volume and low volume lanes. The end result of these bids must deliver freight on time, damage free and at a market-competitive cost to demanding customers that all have their own requirements.
  • Retail: Inbound flow for retail has challenges that include many low-to-medium volume lanes.
  • Manufacturing: Paper and packaging companies require different equipment types—this can span from traditional dry van to light-weight equipment. Balancing dedicated lanes and OTR lanes can be part of this challenge.
  • Oil and Gas: With fracking recently taking a leap forward in the last few years, helping maneuver the sourcing of sand and water has seen barriers but has also had great rewards.
  • Chemical: Shipping hazardous substance presents challenges in regards to regulation and safety risks.

Sourcing and Bid Strategies:

In order for shippers to proactively tackle these challenges, it is important to consider a few key sourcing strategies when engaging in bid activities:

  • Shippers and their logistics and/or procurement partners should give at least a month of preparation time before going into a bid.
  • Bidding the entire network is an effective strategy as it allows companies to leverage their entire freight spend and gives enhanced visibility to an entire network of carriers.
  • Truckload and intermodal should be bid out together because many carriers have similar freight characteristics.
  • The results of the bid needs to be implemented, at the most, 30 to 45 days after completion of the process. Sometimes a bid can get pushed back to the 60-day mark, but anything past this timeframe can reflect a change in capacity in the shipper and/or carrier’s network.

Additionally, while there are many practical bid strategies for shippers, there are also important factors that core carriers should address when facing the bidding process. Shippers negotiating with their top 5 or 6 carriers has become a more significant trend, thus removing some lanes from a specific bid process. It is also important to remember that, because of the changes within networks for both shippers and carriers, a single year contract is recommended, especially for truckload shipments (due to different environments, LTL could get pushed out to a 2-year contract).

With the entire bidding process comprised of an aggregate of steps, it is important to stay up-to-date on current industry trends and strategies. Proactive, good communication between all parties involved and following best practices will help make the process smooth and increase the success for a business’s bidding scenario.

To see all of what Ben Cubitt and Ratna Prabhu shared about bid activity strategies, trends and more take a look at the full video here. Want to learn even more about this topic? Keep an eye out for our Shipper Symposium breakout sessions, where it is featured in our 2017 event!