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Archives for March 2018

Upgrade Your Delivery Strategy with an Environmentally Friendly Approach

By Contributing Author | 03/30/2018 | 7:41 AM

By Inbal Axelrod, MyRouteOnline

 

With Earth Day coming up in April, it’s a good time to upgrade your delivery methods in support of greener approaches. Here are some areas where you can cut carbon emissions to achieve a more eco-friendly strategy:

Use recycled packaging
Begin your efforts toward a more environmentally friendly approach by seeking out new packaging materials. Look for a Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certification on your boxes to ensure that the paper is from sustainably managed forests, and use boxes made from 100% recycled paper.

You can also find boxes with environmentally responsible ink. Check to see whether your boxes are Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certified, meaning that they use biodegradable inks and adhesives.

While eco-friendly shipping boxes can be a bit more expensive, it’s made up for by other cost-saving eco-friendly strategies, like using less fuel and taking more efficient routes. As an added plus, consumers are more discerning than ever in their buying habits, and using environmentally responsible packaging gives your brand extra appeal.

Forget the foam
Foam packing peanuts are particularly harmful to the environment. They’re typically made from polystyrene, which takes hundreds or even thousands of years to decompose. And because they’re so small and light, they’re easily blown away from landfills and into the oceans, polluting the water and harming the small animals that consume the tiny styrofoam pieces.

While recycled polystyrene foam is already common, packing peanuts made from biodegradable products is even better. Rather than use the styrofoam peanuts, opt for ones that are made from starch or recycled paper.

Reduce size and volume
Reducing the size and volume of your packages has several environmental benefits. First, it reduces the amount of packaging itself--and the disposable waste that comes with it. Second, it reduces the weight of the package, meaning that less fuel will be used to transport each one.

Finally, having small package sizes reduces fuel emissions even further by allowing you to pack each vehicle more efficiently. This maximizes the number of packages per delivery vehicle and minimizes the number of vehicles on the road. 

Use environmentally friendly vehicles
When it comes to your delivery vehicles, think beyond cars and trucks. While the use of cars and trucks is sometimes unavoidable for long drives or in suburban environments, other transportation methods, such as walking, biking, and the use of small electric vehicles, work well within small scale environments or congested urban areas.

The key is to think about which vehicles best suit your unique environment. Particularly bike-friendly cities, such as Portland, Oregon, are perfect locations for bicycle delivery. Centuries-old cities with crowded, narrow streets, like the city of Basel, Switzerland, are already making use of small electric vehicles.  Other cities, like London, are cutting emissions using electric bikes with trailers.

Crowded downtown areas can have centralized distribution hubs scattered around the city where small, low-emissions vehicles can pick up the items to be delivered. The items can then be transported to central locations from which they can be delivered to specific addresses by bike or foot.

Plan a carbon efficient route
In addition to reducing your fuel emissions by decreasing package sizes and using alternate forms of transport, you can also come up with a delivery strategy that makes your route more efficient. If your delivery vehicles are taking roundabout routes, if they’re backtracking as they move between stops, or if you’re using more vehicles than you need to, your delivery strategy will have an unnecessarily high carbon footprint. You can easily reduce this footprint by analyzing your delivery routes and cutting out excess driving.

Choose low-emissions transportation companies
If your business must use a truck or car but doesn’t have delivery services of its own, the delivery company you choose should still be low-emission. You can determine which transportation companies are the most environmentally friendly by checking to see whether they’re government certified by the Environmental Protection Agency. The website of the EPA’s SmartWay program displays relevant information about low-emission transportation companies and updated company emissions data.

Conclusion
Opting for an environmentally friendly delivery strategy is increasingly necessary in today’s world. As proven by successes with urban-friendly delivery vehicles and other fuel-saving strategies, eco-friendly approaches and cost-saving strategies are not mutually exclusive. If we want to combat climate change, all of us--including those in the delivery industry--are responsible for adopting a greener approach.

 

 

Photo_Inbal AxelrodInbal Axelrod is the co-founder and CMO at MyRouteOnline, a multiple stop route planner that helps make our world greener. Individuals visiting multiple locations can plan their routes online, optimize their route, and spend less fuel and time on the road. This means fewer greenhouse gas emissions, a reduced carbon footprint, and better air quality

4 Ways Autonomous Ships Can “Save” The Shipping Industry

By Contributing Author | 03/23/2018 | 8:34 AM
By Gary Cardenas, President of TOC Logistics International

While self-driving cars seem to be the latest technology buzz on everyone’s mind, even more likely to make a break into the market sooner rather than later are autonomous ships. These ships are no longer just a pipe-dream as numerous companies and organizations are undertaking the design and implementation of this technology.

With so many organizations working to put this technology into place, these futuristic vehicles could make their way into the industry in 10-15 years time and could “save” the industry in many ways.

While there are obvious challenges associated with the introduction of ships sailing the ocean without a captain or crew, these are the ways autonomous vehicles could save the shipping industry money, time, and more.

From Piracy: 

While reports of maritime piracy continued to decline in 2017, the second half of the year did show a total of 87 incidents reported to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB). Unmanned ships could cut back on these numbers even more as an unmanned ship is significantly less appealing to pirates. When there is no crew, there is no crew to hold ransom.

If those with ill intent do try to board an unmanned vessel, the design of these ships will make it difficult. If they were to make it on board, they would have no access to controls and the computer powering the ship could take over and either change course, drive in a circle until help arrived, or shut down.

Money:

Autonomous ships will not only be a game-changer when it comes to safety, but to budgets as well. Once these ships hit the ocean, they can save money on fuel and pack more cargo for more productive trips. With no crew on board, certain aspects of the ship’s design, like crew quarters and sewage systems, can be removed to create more cargo space.

Their sleek designs cut back on wind resistance allowing them to move faster through the water. These changes will cut construction costs, reduce operating costs and make for more efficient trips.

From A Talent Shortage: 

As technological-savvy millennials enter the workforce, they are attracted to digitally-geared jobs. Seafaring as a career, spending weeks or months away from homes and families, is becoming less appealing but powering these massive machines from home through electronic and digital systems are the careers that will appeal to the incoming generations.

From Accidents:

In a report published by the Munich-based insurance company Allianz in 2012, between 75 and 96 percent of marine accidents are caused by human error. A vessel not operated by humans will cut back on these errors and hopefully on accidents.

While there will be regulatory and operating challenges to face, these ships present numerous opportunities to an ever-changing industry.

(This blog original appeared on the TOC Logistics International website. To learn more about trends within the industry, you can sign up for blog update on the company's page.)

 
Gary CardenasGary Cardenas, President of TOC Logistics International, is an accomplished logistics management professional with nearly thirty years of increasing responsibility in the International/Domestic logistics industry. He has a strong background in operating environments and is proficient in establishing continuous improvement processes and quality-based problem-solving. He also has a keen understanding of, and can effectively penetrate internal and external business practices and industrial processes to maximize revenues, improve operations, and strengthen business relationships. Gary received his education in International Marketing from William Rainey Harper College and National-Louis University.

The Keys to Successful Implementation of IoT in Supply Chain

By Contributing Author | 03/16/2018 | 6:26 AM

 

By, Kristi Montgomery, VP of Innovation, Kenco Logistics.

Part III of III

IoT; a trendy buzzword, yet a very real presence that is set to disrupt all industries, including the supply chain. The benefits it has to offer complex industries in which data is indispensable and tracking is increasingly paramount are undeniable (see part one of this blog series The Future of IoT in the Supply Chain: It’s Complicated). However, as with all new technologies, the future of its implementation is precarious. In the previous blog post, Roadblocks for IoT Implementation, you learned that for every benefit IoT has to offer, there is a barrier or two (or three) standing in its way. You now know both sides of the IoT barrage and you have the pros and cons to weigh on each side of the scale. But what will you do with that information?

 

The last post of this series will break down that information into actionable insights providing an IoT adoption strategy and the keys to successful implementation of this novel and revolutionary network.

The Keys to IoT Implementation:

A Thoughtful Approach

The rollout of IoT technologies will have widespread impact and could require structural reorganization. It is a decision that carries significant weight, affecting many parts of your organization from budget, to management, and IT to the warehouse floor. With such a heavy lift, it is critical that your choice to implement is aligned with your company’s strategy. Refer to the major objectives of your organization and ensure that they are at the core of all decisions. If part of your organization’s objective is to be at the forefront of smart technological adoption, then IoT is an intelligent opportunity for you.

However, IoT is not something to adopt simply to stay ahead of the curve, or to jump on the latest trend. You don’t want to build a solution in search of a problem, and you certainly don’t want to reinvent the wheel only to see it fall flat. Consider the challenges you are hoping to address and ensure that the technology will achieve what you’ve set out to solve. This task may require external resources to help you complete and maintain.

With such new and complex technology, you and your employees may not be equipped to adopt it without outside expertise and guidance. It’s important to analyze the core strengths of your organization and understand where you will need help to obtain clear and positive results.

A Strategic Execution

Approaching the idea of IoT is the tip of the iceberg, but the magnitude of the task is revealed with execution and implementation. Meticulous examination of all elements that IoT involves and affects in your organization is pertinent to its eventual success. A strategy for this process is not one-size fits all, however, the below outlines key elements and considerations to keep in mind for your specific execution plan. Even if in your thoughtful approach you felt certain that the IoT technology you hope to adopt will be a wise and worthwhile investment, continue your deliberations.

Choosing a Vendor:

Understand that there will be numerous companies and vendors vying for your business – and that some vendors are more credible than others. One way to ensure you’ve chosen a dependable vendor is to look for references. Even more important is to contact those references and discuss the successes (or lack there-of) that they’ve seen since onboarding that particular partner.

Maybe your analysis for adopting IoT into your business model was not entirely conclusive, and you are simply looking to dip your toes in the IoT waters. You may want to consider engaging with a start up for a paid pilot. This is a fantastic way to prove the concept in an inexpensive manner and potentially play a role in shaping the future of the product line.

Getting the Desired Data:

If you’ve gotten this far in the process, then it’s likely that one of your biggest draws to the IoT product is its capability to collect or produce critical big data. These metrics are undeniably valuable, but any product can promise results. What you must consider is the type of data you will need to extract from the device. Push the vendor to explain and ensure exactly the kind of information you can expect to receive from the product and be certain that the way the data is presented will be easily translated into actionable insights.

Realizing Bandwidth and Resources

As discussed in the previous blog, one of the great challenges that IoT products often present is the requirement for additional resources post-implementation. It is essential to know exactly the power and the bandwidth that the product will require from both your facilities and your workforce. From an infrastructure perspective, you must be adequately prepared to handle the new devices. Do you have the capacity to store all the data from “always-on” devices? Will massive influxes of numbers overload your systems? The last thing you want is a failed project due to resource constraints or staff unequipped to handle the needs of the new technology.

Centralizing Communication

Another major issue addressed in the previous article is compatibility. Will the smart devices connect seamlessly with your current platform? Even if you have the manpower and the resources needed to execute IoT technology, you will still require a centralized communication platform to handle the inevitable maintenance and problem-solving situations that arise out of its deployment. It is wise to select a singular outlet, preferably cloud-based, to create more controlled and secure communications when implementing the technology.

Adaptability

The most successful organizations are open to the latest in tech and welcome change to their business systems. Waiting to see what your competitors do is dangerous — you don’t want to be seen as Blockbuster when Netflix starts gaining ground. So, if you’re open to adopting such revolutionary technology as IoT then you are halfway there. But, you also must acknowledge that these devices will require frequent updates to remain relevant. You must be able to adapt with the technology and change with the times. Flexibility with the system and openness to software improvements will be the principles to live by, and having a back-up plan will be a golden rule. The biggest precarity involved with IoT is its complete reliance on internet connectivity. If IoT tech is even an idea for your organization, you absolutely must have a plan for what to do when the internet goes out.

My Recommendation:

If you and your organization have considered all of the above (and likely some more), and you have conducted thorough research and weighed all your options; if you have the necessary manpower and resources; and you are prepared to invest, restructure, and change, then choose your product wisely from a trusted vendor. Once you have chosen your product and worked through the keys to success, then proceed cautiously and continue to iterate as you go.

The adoption process will be the beginning of a journey and you’ll adapt throughout. It’s important to remain open to modern ways of analyzing data and using data as you may be surprised at what can be gleaned and how it can be used to enhance your business model. Learn to recognize patterns, correlate what seems to be disparate data, and, as you continue learning from the data you gain as well as from others in the supply chain make sure you’re sharing the information with peers. Collaboration truly breeds innovation across industries and it starts with each of us.

 

KristiMontgomery

Kristi Montgomery, Vice President of Innovation, Kenco Logistics

Promoting transformational change in supply chain through delivery of innovation for customer-centric solutions

Like you, Kristi knows that innovation cannot just be a buzzword.  She is a dynamic explorer of strategic innovation that drives revolutionary change.  With 27 years of logistics and supply chain experience, she leads a dedicated team of specialists in Kenco Innovation Labs who identify, research, and prototype creative ideas with the potential to impact the supply chain. Collaborating with customers, entrepreneurs, and vendors from multiple industries enables Kenco to think “inside” the supply chain box and create unique, customer-driven solutions.  As the senior innovation officer, recognizing that no single approach works for every customer, Kristi leads research and development utilizing design thinking and open innovation to deliver business value for the 200+ customers that Kenco serves in North America.  Kristi is passionate about the relentless pursuit of innovation as an enabler of business growth and driver of strategic advantage. Executing on the innovation promise compels her to be a transformational agent of change.

Kristi received her BS in Organizational Management from Covenant College She is a certified Specialist in Design Thinking and Innovation as awarded by the Darden School of Business, University of Virginia.  She also received her Certified Information Executive designation from the Institute of CIO Excellence at the University of South Carolina.

Kristi serves on the Board of Directors for ChaTech, a non-profit dedicated to the promotion of technology and STEM education, is the Co-Chairman of the International Warehouse and Logistics Association Education Committee, and serves the industry speaking, participating as a panelist, and publishing articles promoting supply chain innovation.

E-commerce Challenges in Online Retail and How to Conquer Them

By Contributing Author | 03/09/2018 | 8:00 AM

By Erhan Musaoglu, CEO and co-founder, Logiwa Corp.


E-commerce is a highly competitive space for most retailers. If they don’t have enough capital to spend on sales and marketing, they end up not only losing sales, but trailing behind the competition as well. Being an online retailer is a difficult, headache-inducing business; you have to often juggle multiple sales channels, manage your inventory levels, and increase customer satisfaction at the same time. Worse, the rise of duplicates and fake stores nowadays cause your customers to view your ecommerce business with even more scrutiny, making gaining repeat customers hard to achieve.

A few of the challenges of working in e-commerce:

Each Delivery

A traditional warehouse usually ships products directly to another business – mostly in higher quantities and in bulk. Unlike B2B businesses, B2C warehousing involves a higher number of individual orders and smaller quantities within the order. B2B businesses, on the other hand, rely on each delivery, meaning they often ship one product at a time. This can be time consuming, and often reduce productivity when compared with larger businesses.

Scalability and Temporary Workers

The fluctuations in demand from season to season require a temporary workforce, which can mean additional licenses, industrial scanners and training. Additionally, temporary workers need to be entered into whatever record-keeping system you currently use, resulting in a productivity loss due to wrongly assigned or nonfunctional scanners and input systems.

Single Items

In e-commerce, the average number of single-item orders is around 30%-50%. A traditional warehouse management system is familiar with and good at picking pallets and boxes from the warehouse, but not picking single items. This means that picking a single order can take longer than it would otherwise.

Missing sales opportunities can be as painful as overselling. You might have items received into your warehouse or have cancelled orders or have items that can be drop shipped from your supplier during the day. You need to add these into your inventory on all your stores in Amazon, Ebay, Walmart, 3dcart.

By using a proper inventory management software, you can build API connection to all your sales channels and update your inventory in real-time.

So how do you break even?

One way to help combat the daily struggles of online retail business is by investing in Inventory management software. Inventory management or warehouse management software (WMS) for e-commerce gives companies access to real-time and accurate inventory, order, and shipment data. When this data is pushed back to marketplaces and shopping carts, your company can avoid overselling and missing sales opportunities. Having this data at your fingertips gives you the ability to create demand forecasting models and optimize your shipment processes, and thus save you money.

Here are a few ways that inventory management software can help overcome the challenges of online retail inventory management:

Accuracy

Inventory Management Systems are designed to help your business increase its accuracy in regards to inventory. This means that the system is designed to help you by doing things like predicting inventory levels and reorder points, keeping track of inventory and returns, and managing individual orders through technologies like barcodes. The most common and affordable technology is barcode and voice technologies. By scanning the product barcode and location barcode, inventory management software ensures the right product is picked from or put away to the right location.

Using barcode technology provides greater productivity and accuracy to the business than traditional inventory management methods.  

Productivity

The different SKUs in an e-commerce warehouse usually can be overwhelming to keep track of, especially when your warehouse has hundreds or thousands of products. A picker can spend hours walking around the warehouse, sometimes walking up to 10 miles a day! Unorganized inventory will lead to major productivity losses compared to your competition, and can be detrimental to keeping your business competitive. One way you can minimize this is by optimizing the walking path of your picker in the warehouse. By reducing walking distance through techniques such as batch picking and optimized routes, you can reduce walking distance more than 30%.

Another way to increase productivity is by handling backorders. The average backorder ratio is 15% percent in an e-commerce warehouse. A next generation inventory management software can help you identify the backorders during receipt and allocate products to backorders. This way, the products are transferred directly to packing stations without put-away.

Finally, a third way to increase productivity is by planning the workload for each shift ahead of time. This ensures that no one shift is overloaded with extra work, and that they all have the resources they need to succeed.

Customer Satisfaction

Inventory management software also benefits customers because they are provided with on-time and accurate data of their orders and shipments. This allows your customer service level to improve drastically, and first-time customers become returning customers.

E-commerce businesses using a sophisticated WMS can easily keep track of all orders in the warehouse, including returns. By tracking everything automatically, you can recover a lost customer by returning their money promptly, or sending the correct item right away. This is one of the real gains of an inventory management system for an e-commerce business, because you not only add value to the business through automation, but add value to your customer service approach as well.

 

Erhan Musaoglu

Erhan Musaoglu is the CEO and co-founder of Logiwa Corp., a supply chain management systems company. Erhan has over 20 years of experience in the warehouse management industry, and has used his experience in industrial engineering and consulting to create multiple companies, including Unitec and IFS. In order to share his knowledge with larger crowds, he has lectured at various universities on e-commerce supply chains and warehousing. His expertise and leadership in navigating the enterprise and B2B industry has lead Logiwa to grow exponentially.  He can be followed on Twitter at @ErhanMusaoglu or on LinkedIn.

Blockchain is Disrupting Business for the Better

By Contributing Author | 03/02/2018 | 2:15 PM

By Avery T. Phillips

The world of supply logistics has seen many changes over the decades. These include worldwide distribution, the evolution of paper invoices to electronic statements, and the internet bringing end users and manufacturers closer together than ever before. One of the latest developments shaking up the business world is the blockchain. The technology powering Bitcoin has a wealth of uses outside of the cryptocurrency world, and it could make a huge difference for supply-chain managers in the coming years.

Invoicing

Invoicing is one of the most likely candidates for blockchain emergence over the next few years. Blockchains rely on distributed ledger technology (DLT), which ensures that everyone involved in the process has a copy of the ledger that updates automatically and has built-in security protections. The advantages of blockchain for logistics and supply chains include exceptional transparency and the ability to track changes to pricing or secure offers in seconds without having to use a middleman to guarantee transactions.

Removing the middlemen, which are typically banks or credit institutions, allows invoices to be updated in real time. This reduces or eliminates the inherent frustrations that can result from recipients failing to update their accounts receivable or transaction invoices in a timely fashion. It also removes the extra time needed, and the costs associated with, relying on a third party to process funds and handle transactions.

Tracking

The logistics world is moving towards greater visibility every day, and with the near-exponential growth of asset-tracking devices, it’s likely that we will continue to see that visibility continue to expand in the future. Blockchain technology allows for instant updates at each stop along the way, ensuring that shippers, transporters and receivers all know where an item is at any given point in time.

The availability of these updates can save money not only in preventing lost or stolen product but also in eliminating much of the legwork and labor costs associated with recovering missing deliverables. In the case of high-valued asset tracking, the savings could be in the thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars for each package tracked.

Inventory

Using DLT to track inventory seems simple, and distributed ledgers are a natural choice for such operations. The overwhelming number of tracking, scanning and storage systems out there may complicate matters, however. Supply-chain managers can benefit by taking a cue from school networks and instituting a standard “bring-your-own-device” policy (BYOD). Blockchains are simple enough to work with many different types of equipment, including barcode scanners and basic tracking software, allowing for a quick upgrade to a DLT-compliant setup.

With a BYOD policy in place, a company can mandate that any equipment used for tracking inventory, whether the goods are stored in-house or at a distant logistics center, meets the requirements for the DLT setup the organization uses. Even if your company doesn’t plan to move to blockchain-enforced transactions at this time, being ready for DLT implementation can save time and money in the years to come.

Blockchains remain an emergent technology that is likely to continue to transform in the years to come. Keeping an eye on development in the future can ensure supply and logistics companies are ready to meet the challenge and provide the visibility and service that customers expect.

 

Avery-Phillips-bio
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.

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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