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Why DCs Should Care About The WannaCry Ransomware Attack – And Three Things To Do Now To Protect Yourself

By Contributing Author | 05/18/2017 | 10:07 AM

By Ron Kubera, Senior VP and CMO, Lucas Systems

 

The recent worldwide ransomware attack that affected computers running Windows operating systems points to a looming security risk facing many Distribution Centers. A vast proportion of the affected computers in the WannaCry attack were running an unsupported operating system, Windows XP. Those computers were not eligible to receive regular security updates, which left them particularly vulnerable to the virus. A similar situation will face DCs after 2020, when Microsoft ends support for the Windows mobile operating system that runs the vast majority of mobile computers used for RF and voice applications today.

 

Three Things To Do To Protect Yourself

1. Understand the Issue. As reported in Wired Magazine, the best protection against the WannaCry ransomware was to download and install a security patch provided by Microsoft. For most users, that patch is applied as an automatic update. However, for computer users with WindowsXP, there was no patch because Microsoft had ended support for that OS in 2014. As the article states: “With very few exceptions—including an emergency patch after the first wave of WannaCry infections and expensive, specialized service contracts—Microsoft no longer provides any security support for the OS. A computer running XP today is a castle with no moat, portcullis raised, doors flung open, greeting the ravaging hoards with wine spritzers and jam.”

The exact same situation will face DCs using devices running Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 in 2020, the sunset date by which Microsoft will stop providing updates.  The Windows Embedded problem in the DC is even more pervasive than the Windows XP issue: Less than 10 percent of PCs in use today use XP; by contrast well more than 70% of all RF, vehicle mount and voice devices used in DCs today are running the Windows operating systems that are sunsetting in less than three years.

To be fair, many of the mobile devices used for RF or other applications in the DC do not have direct access to the Internet, making them less susceptible to attack. Nevertheless, the risk to these devices is real, and avoidable, Plus, there are risks beyond security to using devices with obsolete operating systems.

2. Know Which Devices Are At Risk. Since the late 1990s, the majority of industrial RF devices have used successive generations of Microsoft mobile operating systems, which allowed DCs to upgrade devices without changing their software applications. This Windows mobile platform was remarkably stable and reliable, by any standard. The last of this OS generation is still being sold on a wide range of warehouse hardware, including popular vehicle mount computers, traditional handheld and wearable devices, and even voice-only terminals.

Your IT organization should be aware of the following end of support dates for the OS versions that are still being shipped today (and note that older operating systems may be out of support already):

WindowsOS Sunset

Source For End of Service Dates: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/lifecycle/search

3. Develop A Migration Plan. If you are using any devices with an outdated and unsupported OS, you should immediately upgrade the OS (if possible) or replace the device (if the OS cannot be upgraded) with a device running a supported Windows operating system. Longer-term, you will have to plan to move to a new mobile operating system platform, whether that is Windows 10 (or another new Mircosoft platform), Android, or Apple iOS. It should be noted that Zebra and Honeywell, the leading hardware providers for the DC, have each announced support for Android in many of their newest hardware devices. What many operations people don’t realize is that changing to a new OS has major implications for your warehouse software systems.

The vast majority of warehouse applications were designed to run only on current Windows mobile devices, so ask your vendor if your current voice, RF or other applications can run on other operating systems. Windows-only applications will have to be rewritten to run on a new OS. For most DCs, this would include older Web browser-based applications, Telnet/terminal emulation software, other RF applications, and voice-directed applications. Many voice applications, in fact, use speech recognition technology that is tied to the current Windows operating system, making a “port” to a new OS platform an even greater challenge.

Beyond your current applications, if you are considering any new applications for use in your DC, you should ask your software provider if they support Android or other viable, long-term operating systems. And anyone buying new Windows-based hardware devices should realize that those devices will be obsolete before they are fully depreciated.

 

The Sky Isn’t Falling

If you are using devices today that will be affected by the Windows sunset, you still have time to act. Those devices and applications will continue to run reliably and securely. However, failing to consider your alternatives may leave you in a vulnerable position in as little as three years. Given the ever-changing nature of cyber-threats, its more important than ever that these issues be addressed pro-actively.

 

Ron Kubera has more than 25 years of supply chain industry experience, including leadership roles in delivering consulting and implementation services to CPG companies, industrial manufacturers, and other distribution-intensive companies. Over the last 15 years he has held P&L responsibility for supply chain products and software solutions at Manugistics, JDA, Infor and Honeywell. At Lucas, Ron is responsible for overall commercial strategy and partnerships on a worldwide basis.    
 

Quality Talent Leads to Quality Trucking: The Technology Advantage in Attracting, Engaging, and Retaining Top Talent in Transportation

By Contributing Author | 05/03/2017 | 9:21 AM

By Malysa O’Connor, Senior Director, Logistics Practice Group, Kronos Incorporated

It may not come as a surprise that there’s a trucker shortage today, but unfortunately, it may be getting worse. Data from the American Truckers Association (ATA) shows that the U.S. is already experiencing a shortfall of approximately 50,000 drivers and that it could reach to nearly 175,000 by 2024. Yet the age distribution of the nearly 850,000 truckers currently on the road suggests that the problem will get worse in the next five to ten years as a higher number of drivers retire. This sudden shift in the workforce makes it even more crucial for the millennial and Gen Z generations to become more educated about the trucking industry and the opportunities it provides to work with many different types of technology.

There are other factors to blame, too. Truck drivers are under extreme – and constant – pressure to meet tight deadlines, comply with hours-of-service restrictions, fight off fatigue, and manage ever-increasing customer demands. Far from the allure of “the open road,” trucking can actually be a very stressful industry. If the environment becomes too difficult, employees can experience low morale or burnout, become disengaged, or in the worst case, choose to leave the industry completely. Additionally, because of the age limits young drivers face with not being able to obtain a CDL license before age 21, many potential young drivers looking for a career in trucking will move on to other industries before that day of eligibility. This is a source of frustration for companies that want to recruit non-college bound 18- or 19-year-olds before they settle in other occupations.

None of this is good news for an industry that is such an essential link in the overall supply chain. This is especially true as the need for effective last-mile transportation continues to grow along with the number of consumers who rely on trucking for at-home deliveries. Clearly, distribution and trucking companies must do all they can to minimize daily pressures, increase employee engagement, and improve the way they attract, hire, and retain top talent.

Closing the gap with millennials

As companies look to address these challenges – ultimately with an eye toward addressing the driver shortage – many of them are targeting the millennial generation. While such a strategy may seem surprising at first, it actually makes a lot of sense. Millennials have officially passed baby boomers in size and are now the largest generation. The millennial generation now represents 25 percent of the population, which makes it the largest pool of available talent. Additionally, millennials are motivated by career opportunities that give them the chance to grow, learn new technology, and apply new skills. All of these are abundant in trucking today.

These last points are important as organizations attempt to attract new employees. According to a recent survey from the Harris Poll, “the opportunity to learn new skills” and “the chance to adopt new technical skills” were the top two reasons cited when respondents were asked why they would commit to a new profession. Conversely, more than one quarter of respondents stated that their main reason for leaving a company was the chance to pursue a hot new technology.

The human capital management advantage

So, what can distribution and trucking companies do to improve the way they attract, hire, engage, and retain top talent? One of the most effective ways is with human capital management (HCM) technology, which provides powerful tools for recruiting and managing employees.

When it comes to driving employee engagement and promoting retention, HCM solutions help by automating manual systems and providing better access to critical information. For example, truckers benefit from self-service access to their schedules, especially when they can view schedules sooner, swap shifts, or select shift preferences and availability. Quick and easy access to schedules also allows drivers to better manage their work life balance when facing up against Hours of Service (HOS) regulations.

Additionally, when it comes to attracting prospective employees, trucking companies can use HCM solutions to implement the following best practices:

  • Create modern job titles and more engaging job descriptions that will appeal to millennials or another targeted demographic.
  • Highlight skill-building opportunities, training, or other programs that are offered as part of the job.
  • Promote any new technologies or transferrable technical skills employees will acquire.
  • Describe the key benefits and other ways the company values employees – and how it focuses on minimizing daily pressures and overall stress.

All of these outcomes have a positive effect on employee morale, productivity, and engagement.

One solution, many benefits

As distribution and transportation companies look to tighten the existing talent gap, they need to consider new strategies and tools to help them succeed. Whether they’re looking to hire more millennial employees, minimize daily on-the-job pressures, increase employee engagement and retention, or “all of the above,” human capital management technology can give them the edge they’re looking for.

 

Malysa OConnor

Malysa O’Connor is a senior director of the services and distribution practice group at Kronos Incorporated, a leader in human capital and workforce management software solutions. At Kronos, O’Connor leads product direction and go-to-market strategies for several target industries including field and contract services, financial services, logistics, non-profits, staffing, and transportation. She is also responsible for partnering across sales, services, product development, and customer support to achieve sales growth and customer satisfaction goals.


 

What You Should Know about the Sanitary Transportation of Food Rule

By Contributing Author | 03/31/2017 | 7:05 AM

By Jason Craig, C.H. Robinson

This year, April 1 has more meaning than just April Fool’s Day. For many in our industry, the Sanitary Transportation of Food (STF) rule goes into effect. Since this broad rule affects so many in the industry, here’s what you need to know:

  1. Commodities that fall under this rule

As part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the STF rule applies to human or animal food items that are shipped open to the air, temperature controlled for safety, or shipped in bulk trailers or tankers via truck or rail.

The rule differentiates items that are temperature controlled for quality versus safety. Typical products that need temperature controlled shipping for safety include fresh meat and unpasteurized beverages. Whereas items like canned beverages and chocolate are often temperature controlled for quality so they would not be subject to this rule as long as they are in closed containers.

  1. Responsible parties

The rule affects people and organizations transporting human and animal food by truck or rail. It outlines parties as shippers (including 3PLs), loaders, receivers, and carriers (specifically truck and rail). Entities can be defined as:

  • Shipper – Arranges for transportation by a carrier or multiple carriers sequentially. Could be a manufacturer, broker, warehouse, or other entity. Several parties may assume the role of a shipper for a single load.
    • Loader – A person loading the trailer.
    • Receiver – A person unloading the trailer.
    • Carrier – An entity that physically moves the food by rail or motor vehicle.

Shippers need to have written policies and procedures in place for products. Carriers are also required to have written policies and procedures about how to handle instructions from shippers; they also need to train employees on general sanitary practices and internal procedures.

  1. STF’s staggered release

Officially, business with more than $25.5 million in annual receipts or those that employ more than 500 people should be in compliance with the STF rule by April 2017; all organizations smaller than that have until April 2018 to comply. That said, many shippers are expecting compliance from all carriers, no matter their size, by April 2017.

  1. Restating current best practices

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated this rule is not intended to impose significant new requirements in the industry—in fact, the industry is already completing most steps within the rule. The rule is simply a restatement or formal recognition of industry best practices with the addition of a documentation requirement.

Because most organizations already follow these general behaviors, we don’t expect to see a lot of material change relative to the safe transportation of food in the United States. If you have questions about the rule or how it will affect your business:

  • Visit the FDA’s website.
  • Work with your logistics provider.
  • Watch this six minute video of Chris McLoughlin, risk manager at C.H. Robinson, discussing the rule.

 

Craig Jason DSC_3498
Jason Craig — Director, Government Affairs

Jason has over 20 years of industry experience and a deep understanding of government policies. He monitors regulatory and legislative issues impacting the transportation and produce industries for C.H. Robinson. Jason is member of the Minnesota Freight Advisory Committee (MFAC) and serves as an election judge in the City of Minneapolis.

Is Your BYOD Policy Keeping Up with Your Employees’ Behavior?

By Contributing Author | 03/22/2017 | 2:00 PM

By Samuel Mueller, Scandit

Not too long ago, the idea of supporting a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy was a radical concept. A lot of IT managers were concerned, and rightfully so, about issues such as security and device management. While those concerns are still out there, tools and services have been designed to address them. 
 
These days, BYOD isn’t the controversial topic that it once was. In 2016, Tech Pro Research reported that 72% of organizations surveyed either already allowed the use of personal devices for work or would start to allow it within one year.
 
Since BYOD is becoming more of a standard in the enterprise, your company may already support it. But are you keeping up with it? If your company’s BYOD policy hasn’t been reviewed or changed since it was implemented, it’s likely an out-of-date approach.
 
Your employees may be able to use their own smartphones, computers, or other mobile devices. However, if you force them to use applications that are outdated or poorly designed, you’re doing them a disservice. Instead, in addition to a BYOD policy, you should also encourage a Bring Your Own Application (BYOA) policy.
 
Your employees can easily go to any app store and search for better options than company-approved apps, and they’re likely already doing this. Have you tried searching for applications that would be helpful in the supply chain? Try searching for specific categories such as inventory management and order entry. You will be amazed by how much is out there. Not everything will be a fit for your organization, but there will likely be some options to consider that you’ve never heard of before.
 
Your employees might already be using some of their new discoveries on the side to be more productive. You don’t want them to feel like they can’t share or talk about new apps because they go against company policy. Instead of being skeptical about new apps, ask employees about what they’ve found that works well for them. Whenever possible, support the apps as an official part of your BYOD policy.
 
Just like BYOD, using new apps in a corporate environment can be scary. Consider that bringing your employees’ discoveries and behaviors into your BYOD policy can make your business operations more productive and agile. Not just for one or a few employees, but for all of them.
 
Samuel
Samuel Mueller is the CEO and co-founder of Scandit and is responsible for overall strategic direction, marketing, sales and business development. Prior to Scandit, Samuel was a management consultant and project leader for multinational companies such as Swiss Airlines, Swiss Re and IBM as well as a corporate researcher at the renowned IBM Zurich Research Lab. While at IBM, Samuel was awarded an IBM Research Division Award and a total of three IBM Invention Achievement Awards. He has authored numerous patent applications and has published his research results in leading conferences and journals. Samuel holds a PhD from ETH Zurich and graduated summa cum laude with an MSc in Computer Science and an MA in Financial Economics, both from the University of Zurich, Switzerland.

7 Ways CMMS Can Transform Your Business

By Contributing Author | 03/15/2017 | 2:03 PM

By Lindsey Walker, NEXGEN Asset Management

Warehouse management is a critical part of every business. You had to manually carry out various tasks in the past, but now, you can implement computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) in the facility. With CMMS, you can automate most warehouse management tasks, simplify a complex supply chain structure, and save time and effort. Let us look at 7 ways CMMS can benefit your business.

1. Accountability Increases

With an asset management software, you can report, order spare parts and schedule preventive maintenance in an automated and a streamlined manner. You can find all the detailed records of who conducted the last repair work and all the relevant information regarding the same. You can save time, increase the validity of the reporting methods and achieve increased accountability.

2. Efficiency Increases

The integration of IoT and CMMS frees up people and takes over numerous individual jobs that were reliant on manual effort. Due to this, the standard for reliability and efficiency increases and data can be reported more accurately.

3. Ability to Integrate Technology

You can integrate technology and various mobile apps that allow your business to have a competitive edge in the market. You can utilize technology in a number of ways to enhance your  brand image too.

4. Mobility Increases

The mobile technology allows you to remotely control the processes and program the software from any location in the world. You can remotely check-in and inspect your processes and equipment. Moreover, you can receive, manage and complete work orders, regardless of where you are located, with just a click of the button. You can also access the Manufacturer Recommended Procedures and critical repair information while repairing any equipment remotely.

5. Equipment Life Increases

CMMS software ensures that you conduct timely maintenance schedule and execute work orders on time. You can make sure that the vital infrastructure is always working at its peak efficiency for a long time. It helps in preventing overlapping of preventive maintenance schedules and facilitates smooth functioning of equipment. All this results in extending the service life of vital equipment and assets.

6. Downtime is Reduced

Since the integration of IoT and CMMS allows you to stay on top of maintenance schedules, you will have fewer unplanned downtimes and unexpected service outages. CMMS will collect all the information pertaining to repair and replacements by tracking the historical maintenance trends of your equipment, empowering you to plan for predictive maintenance and schedule periodic inspections.

7. Improved Inventory Control

A maintenance management software will give you an end-to-end view of your inventory levels, shipping costs, purchase and work orders, replacements, on-hand counts and storeroom capabilities, all in real time, offering improved inventory control. The asset planning software can automatically generate the purchase requests by keeping a constant track of the minimum and maximum levels of stock. It also gives an instant access to relevant information that can help you improve the response times, accelerate work order completion and reduce downtimes.

Implementing CMMS brings more to the table than you could ever imagine. Incorporate it in your facility and it won’t be long before you reap the myriad benefits. 

Lindsey Walker

Lindsey Walker is the marketing manager for NEXGEN Asset Management. She excels at business development, project management and asset management. Her passion for writing allows her to share her knowledge on asset management, mobile geographic information systems (GIS), mobile CMMS, software implementation, training curriculum development and similar topics.

Gauge and Improve Your Freight Management Performance: Six Critical Key Performance Indicators

By Contributing Author | 03/03/2017 | 11:39 AM

By Mike Challman, VP, North American Operations for CLX Logistics

The 5 W’s: Who, What, When, Where, Why (and How) – is a guide for young journalists in writing leads and actually serves as a good rule-of-thumb for efficient supply chain management. Specifically the 5 W’s can be applied to freight management:

  1. Who is the recipient?
  2. What are you transporting?
  3. When do they need it?
  4. Where do they need it?
  5. Why are we utilizing this mode?
  6. How can we optimize the process?

With the supply chain management competitive landscape growing at a steady rate, assessing freight management performance is increasingly important. Smart companies constantly look for better and more efficient ways to manage their supply chain – the question is, where to start?

Although the entire freight management process is crucial, there are some elements you should prioritize over others. Consider the following key performance indicators when beginning your freight management assessment:

  • Timing is everything. Analyze any consistent delays or last-minute order changes that may be negatively affecting your efficiency and productivity. Add order planning lead times and shipment transit times to your monthly reports to help diagnose lags and streamline operations.
  • Freight costs may seem like an obvious KPI, but the true innovation is in the solution. If your freight costs have increased faster than average inflation, incorporate an extended rate database and a Request-for-Quotation (RFQ) tool to help drive the lowest price for your business.
  • Another aspect to consider is sustainability. The Pew Research Center recently found that 65% of Americans would like to make alternative energy source production a priority. Therefore, environmentally-conscious efforts will earn bonus points amongst the majority of U.S. customers.

Review the remaining KPIs and begin optimizing your freight management process and reporting today.

FreightManagement_Infographic

 

MikeChallman_headshot
Mr. Challman leads all of ChemLogix Managed Services in North America, including freight management operations; benchmarks, bids & carrier procurement; dedicated and rail fleet operations; and brokerage services. CLX Logistics is a global provider of transportation management, technology, and supply chain consulting services, that offers a superior combination of technologies, flexible solutions and a high-touch approach to solving logistics challenges.

Wrap Battle: Why It Might Be Time to Take Issue With Your Supply Chain Packaging (And Where To Start)

By Contributing Author | 02/16/2017 | 3:00 PM

By:  Rajiv Saxena, APL Logistics

Picture this:  You’re at a celebration where the guest of honor has received a huge package that contains a microscopic present – a fact he or she discovers only after unwrapping a series of increasingly smaller packages that are included inside.

Sound familiar?  It should, and not just because it’s a common form of gift-giving humor. 

The transportation of raw materials and finished goods has a similarly superfluous practice. It’s called supply chain packaging – or more accurately supply chain packaging complacency.

There’s no question that this outer shipping layer is often essential for securing and protecting items during transit.  However as a longtime engineer who has spent most of his career working in the logistics industry, I can safely say that many businesses are using far more of it than they need to – and spending more for everything from packing materials and freight to warehousing and waste management because of it. 

The question is, why?  Where are the potential pockets of inefficiency?  And as logistics professionals what can we do do to encourage our companies to address it?

 

Why Is Some Supply Chain Packaging Inefficient?

It’s not difficult to see why this excess happens. 

For one thing, the typical contract between many companies and their suppliers usually leaves suppliers responsible for getting products prepared for long-distance shipping.  Since most of these contracts hold suppliers liable only for product damage – and not for shipping inefficiencies like higher freight bills – it’s only natural for them to play it safe and over-package.

For another, many companies aren’t overly diligent about monitoring or discouraging the potentially inefficient packaging decisions their suppliers make.  Few routinely question whether the supply chain packaging materials, measurements and configurations their suppliers have chosen are optimal matches for their products’ requirements.  And most don’t have disincentives in place to make suppliers think twice about using poorly designed or bloated packaging.

 

How Can You Spot Supply Chain Package Inefficiency?

It’s not too difficult to find the answer to the second question either, because even a little bit of observation at DCs, cross-docks or stores’ receiving docks will often uncover a good number of potential packaging “misses.”

For example: Your packaging might be a candidate for dimensional reductions if you notice a substantial size differential between a product and its exterior packaging; larger quantities of cushioning material than you’re used to seeing; or a significant amount of airspace in each outer package. 

It could have a stackability or cubing limitation if crates or boxes can only be stored in single or double rows/layers in your DC or there appears to be considerable empty space (especially at the top) in each incoming trailer or container. 

And if a box, package or crate can’t be picked cleanly via a standard forklift or other common material handling method, it could indicate a major throughput problem just waiting to happen – or explain why one recently occurred.   

Plus, while it’s only natural for there to be SOME packaging materials that require disposal after items have been unloaded, unpacked and processed, the presence of too many of these materials could be a sign that overstuffing is taking place – or that it’s time to consider a switch to reusable materials.

 

What Are Some Of The Possible Solutions?

In an ideal world, this would be the place where I tell you that supply chain packaging inefficiencies are just as easy to cure.  However in the real world, it’s not quite so simple.  

Many of the most effective antidotes -- including identifying alternative packaging configurations; conducting packaging optimizations; performing simulations; and building and testing prototypes – aren’t the kinds of things a company can administer overnight.  And most require skills the average shipping professional doesn’t possess. 

Ultimately you will probably need to tap into the expertise of your in-house engineers, packaging consultants or one of your 3PLs’ engineering departments and be willing to give the process some time. 

But in the long run, you’ll be glad you did, because a new and improved supply chain packaging approach has the potential to pay major dividends in terms of freight savings, carbon footprint reductions and other material handling improvements.  Eventually it could help transform this long-neglected area of the supply chain from a mere check in the box to a true strategic performer.

 



Rajiv Saxena
Rajiv Saxena is head of supply chain solutions at APL Logistics, one of the world’s largest global supply chain management providers. APL Logistics is the go-to global supply chain specialist for companies in the Automotive, Consumer, Industrials and Retail sectors.The company has a global network covering all major markets; backed by a multinational workforce of about 7,700 people. APL Logistics is a member of the Kintetsu World Express group, a global logistics services provider. 

IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations Updated to Reflect 2017-2018 ICAO Technical Instructions

By Contributing Author | 02/09/2017 | 7:06 AM

By Neil McCulloch, Senior Manager, International Product Development, Labelmaster

Businesses need and want predictability – particularly when it comes to government regulations.  So the fact that ICAO updates its Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods every two years is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because industry knows the changes that are coming and a curse because there are changes coming.

However, these are important safety requirements covering everything that’s transported by air from cargo in the hold of the airplane to the cell phones carried by passengers.  With the recent concerns over certain types of phones and tablets, the 2017 update to the regulations has a direct impact on almost every business everywhere.

No one is more focused on airplane safety than the airlines themselves and their record on that score is amazing with millions of people flying daily in complete confidence. Through their global trade association IATA, the airlines develop their own procedures based on government regulations to ensure that aircraft are as safe as possible. So it’s not surprising that 2017 will see the 58th edition the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) published.

Based on the 2017 ICAO Technical Instructions, the IATA DGR manual gives detailed instructions on how airlines, passengers and cargo shippers should comply with the national and international regulations on dangerous goods in air transport. These are far more common than people think.

Every day about $18.6 billion worth of goods are transported by air. We take our laptop computers, cell phones, hair spray and even our duty free liquor for granted. But each of those has significant hazards if mishandled, poorly manufactured or simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Consequently, ICAO, the airlines and the government have identified them as “dangerous goods” and places a number of restrictions on their carriage by air.

So, what has changed for 2017? And how will it affect your business?

Well, if you ship any kind of lithium battery powered device, these changes will affect you and your shipping operations. If you conduct any kind of dangerous goods training, ICAO is giving advance warning of changes to how training will be evaluated in the future and you would be advised to study these changes. If you ship aerosols, the so-called packing instructions for these have been changed. If you ship any type of machinery, the way these are described on the shipping papers is changed. And many other changes will affect such products as stabilized materials and even uranium hexafluoride.

In short, the 58th edition of the IATA DGR manual is a comprehensive update on the regulatory requirements for the carriage of many substances and articles and should be considered required reading by anyone responsible for transport compliance in your organization.

Here are some highlights of major changes:

  • Specific airline requirements – users of both FedEx and UPS services should note these companies have extensively revised their airline “variations” and check with their service representative for full details of any changes, particularly with respect to lithium battery powered products. These are major changes and should not be underestimated.
  • A new lithium battery handling label (more properly called a mark) has been adopted by all modes of transport to facilitate multi-modal operations. Designed for multi-language, multi-modal use, the label contains no wording.
  • A new lithium battery hazard label has been adopted. Again a multi-modal initiate designed to make the transport chain more efficient, this label clearly identifies the miscellaneous hazard of lithium batteries by adding a pictogram to the existing class 9 label. It’s probably worth reiterating at this point that class 9 dangerous goods should and indeed must be considered just as hazardous as any other class, it’s simply that their hazards don’t fall neatly into the hazards 1 – 8, such is the case with lithium batteries.
  • An interim change to the regulations prohibited lithium batteries from being carried as cargo on passenger aircraft. This is now fully reflected in all sections of the regulations. Some airlines even have further restrictions and have amended their “operator variations.” While the DGR contains the latest list of these variations, they can change at any time. Shippers are well advised to contact their airline for any addition requirements which might have been imposed.
  • The DGR requirement for the shipping paper, known as the Shippers Declaration of Dangerous Goods or “DGD,” must be signed and the title and place of signing included with that signature. The requirement for Title and Place has been deleted.
  • Some new special provision numbers must now be shown on the DGD indicating to the airline that the shipper is aware of these and that those provisions have been correctly applied.
  • The classification for UF6 has changed, reflecting the toxic nature of that substance.

Note, a number of these provisions are grand-fathered, meaning that that the prior requirements are still permissible.

Year after year, no transport mode sees more Dangerous Goods regulatory changes than air transport. That’s why it’s essential to have a complete grasp of each year’s changes as soon as possible.

Neil McCulloch Headshot

Neil McCulloch is senior manager, International Product Development for Labelmaster, which provides dangerous goods and product regulatory support to customers worldwide. He has vast experience and knowledge of hazardous materials regulations through his extensive network of dangerous goods professionals. McCullouch may be reached via email at nmcculloch@lablemaster.com. More information on shipping DG compliantly is available at www.labelmaster.com or by calling 800.621.5808.

 

How to Pair Direct Store Delivery With Mobile

By Contributing Author | 01/25/2017 | 7:23 AM

By Shachar Shamir

We have found ourselves in an interesting stage where we lean heavily on mobile phones to provide us a solution for anything and everything; our phones are our instruments to foster social connections, our therapists, our entertainment and our sources of convenience. But why stop there? If turning to mobile helps us in our personal lives, it would stand to reason that it could help us in our professional lives as well. For B2B sales processes, that is definitely the case.

If you have ever worked in or near a retail store, you probably know the headache of dealing with product distribution centers all too well. It is costly, time-consuming, and can function as a stumbling block within order-to-delivery channels. Cutting out the distribution center means lowering costs, lessening the potential for error, improving customer service, and upping the average order size. This direct store delivery (DSD) is the current trend SMBs are adopting in streamlining delivery operations and reducing operating expenses (usually for merchandise that has high consumer demand), to hopefully gain an edge in the ever-growing competitive market. 

However, with growing business comes a higher potential for making mistakes, which begs the solution of some sales management software to aid in the process. Thankfully, there are now mobile sales manager software services that do exactly this. For instance, Pepperi is an omni-channel commerce platform that enables brand manufacturers and wholesalers to increase their B2B sales. Sales reps are equipped with mobile order taking, mobile CRM, and mobile merchandising to sell smarter, bigger, and faster whilst engaging with the retail buyer at the point of sale. They also enable the retail buyers to order online 24x7 via a self-service web portal and mobile app, so they can top-up goods in-between sales rep visits.

There are also platforms like Octiv and Mobileframe that bring valuable assets to the table. Mobileframe is a broad mobility solution designed for business web applications, one of which being mobile DSD. Their software not only includes standard DSD services, but additional features like real-time alerts and analytics, vehicle inspections and even accident reports. Octiv is interesting in that it focuses more on the creation and distribution of sales assets, such as documents like contracts, presentations, and proposals. The software is meant to optimize these processes, so that sales reps can move off of creating these materials and better allocate their time towards actual selling. Analytic tools are of course then utilized to help gain insight into the effectiveness of these materials, helping sales reps close more deals.

Additionally, StayinFront uses mobile to combine DSD and Van Sales into one unified system. Along with shelf inventory management, sales and inventory monitoring, audits, and surveys, Stayinfront provides location services like integrated mapping to help with route planning, monitoring and management. Conventional route accounting features are at your disposal, as are unique, in-store selling tools that provide sales representatives with the necessary analytics to effectively hook customers into buying.   

Combining DSD with mobile serves is an efficient solution to consolidate sales processes and make distributing and receiving goods easier on retailers. The added component of mobile to DSD gives your retail execution that “on-the-go” advantage, translating into your team gaining access to any order-related functions or queries at any time. As you can see, there are many mobile platforms available to assist with managing delivery operations; it is just a matter of figuring out which one is the best fit for your company.

Shachar
Shachar is the co-founder and COO of Ranky. He lives and breathes business, startups and marketing, and is an avid soccer fan.

Infographic: Change Is In the Air

By Contributing Author | 12/20/2016 | 10:43 AM

Change Is In the Air 1

Change Is In the Air 2

For more information, visit Labelmaster.

Run a smarter distribution center - Adopt Machine Learning!

By Contributing Author | 12/09/2016 | 10:30 AM

By: Vamsi Madabhushi and Swaroop Gooty

As 2016 comes to a close, it is time to reflect upon our achievements and identify opportunities for next year. However, it is also a time for us to ponder upon the future – which is filled with a great promise of change (even in Supply Chain Operations!).

A change so transformative that, soon, machines will learn and execute many tasks that we do today to meet our promise to the customer.

What can machines possibly learn and how can they help supply chain organizations? – In this post allow us to untangle the mystique behind the applicability of machine learning systems to Supply Chain Execution-Operations.

 

What is machine learning (ML)?

Machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence in which algorithm based models are developed. The models learn relationships in data and can be used to predict or investigate relationships of a dataset.

For large dimensional data sets it is often difficult for a human analyst to develop models whereas ML based models excel in their ability to use vast amounts of data.

For model building, the algorithms require data which is a past evidence of a certain pattern i.e. training data. ML models have been successfully applied in computer vision, search engines, bioinformatics, and financial analysis etc.

Suggestions or predictions from machine learning algorithms are inferred based on the data used to train a model. The learning happens by providing training data to the algorithm. This type of learning is known as supervised learning.

For example: If we provide historic data with trailer pick-up and drop-off times, location, routes, driver information, trailer characteristics etc. – the algorithm will be able to learn from the data and predict transit time of a new load going to a particular destination.

 

How does machine learning work?

ML Process

The picture above shows different steps involved in developing a ML model. In our view, the most critical step is to define the business problem. 

Problem Statement: It is important to understand the kind of problems that machine learning can solve. Machine learning is suitable for scenarios where a number of factors could influence the model outcome/prediction and where rule based solutions are not viable.

Analyze, Validate & Prepare Training data: Using the data that is already available in the enterprise the model can be trained. Determining the right set of classification labels, independent variables and correct training data is the basis for developing a good machine learning model. In certain scenarios where the data is not available in a particular format, it may need some transformation.

Develop ML Model: The next step is to choose an appropriate algorithm that will learn from the training data and identify patterns. The model is iteratively tuned to achieve an acceptable level of precision.

Model Validation: A test data set that is kept separately from the training data i.e. data set that the model has not seen previously can be used to validate the model.  The model is evaluated on its ability to recall patterns and on its ability to predict precisely.

Deployment & Periodic Evaluation: Model deployment requires some level of integration with the enterprise systems. Once a model is developed and deployed, it requires periodic evaluation. During evaluation, new patterns are identified and the model is trained on those. This fine tuning of the model makes it more robust and increases the precision of the model output.

 

Why use machine learning in Supply Chain Execution (SCE)?

Adopting advanced technologies can be a strategic lever to achieve operational goals. Using data commonly available in the enterprise coupled with machine learning models can turn out to be a game changer.

SCE activities such as order orchestration, fulfillment, DC space planning, and transportation management are, today, supported by packages or custom applications.

Yes – they get the job done. For example, a warehouse management application can be configured to achieve efficiency in order picking and shipping. However, it cannot tell you whether there is too much idle time of forklifts in specific areas or whether the door utilization this week is lower than expected.

The next wave of systems need to be intelligent and prescriptive in ways that help managers look at their processes differently.

One might ask – I already have real-time visibility of current operations via dashboards and alerts. What else do I need? – The answer is simple – Machine learning based Supply Chain Execution systems.

Most likely, systems that you currently maintain to run your operations are configured to run on yesterday’s business rules. These systems are not dynamic enough to support the ever changing operational environment. Not only is it difficult to change the rules constantly but also it is very time consuming to analyze large amounts of data to identify changing patterns.  

Machine learning models precisely address the above challenges.

 

Where do you start?

Start with identifying problem statements - Like we mentioned above, the most critical step is to identify problems that can be solved through ML models. In this post, we will leave you with a few ideas where ML can be applied to improve your distribution center operations.

Problem statement

Let us know your thoughts.

 

Vamsi120x120Vamsi Madabhushi is a Consulting Manager specializing in Distribution Center Operations and Technology.  An expert in JDA Warehouse Management System he has developed SCE solutions for leading US retailers. Vamsi is enthusiastic about using data analytics to build efficient and greener supply chains.

Vamsi holds an MBA from Johns Hopkins University.



Swaroop

Swaroop Gooty is a Senior Supply Chain consultant with diverse experience across areas of supply chain execution. He is passionate about using technology & data to improve supply chain operations.


Swaroop holds an MBA from Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, India.

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About One-Off Sound-Off

Welcome to "One-Off Sound-Off," a blog page devoted to guest commentary on all things supply chain. This is a space where industry leaders can share their opinions and expertise with the logistics and supply chain community. If you have an article or commentary you'd like to share, please consider sending a guest blog proposal to feedback@dcvelocity.com.



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