Archives for September 2018

Lead acid batteries look poised to keep the electric lift trucks coming

By Contributing Author | 09/28/2018 | 6:32 AM

By Harold Vanasse, Senior Director of Marketing, Motive Power Americas for EnerSys


Don’t look now, but the move from Internal Combustion (IC) lift trucks to electric lift trucks continues for the material handling industry. Maybe you’ve heard promising reports about facilities switching from IC to battery-powered machines and saving money. You may not have heard that market analysts also see a brighter, “greener” future ahead for electric lift truck fleets. Navigant Research predicts electric forklift growth through 2020. Technavio expects overall market growth for forklift batteries to grow at nearly 9% from 2018-2022.

Of course, it’s currently about 50% cheaper to power and move an electric forklift vs. an IC forklift, so the rise of electric forklifts isn’t really a surprise. What some do find surprising is that the switch from IC to electric forklifts doesn’t (yet) involve emerging energy-efficient battery technologies like Lithium ion or Hydrogen fuel cells. Instead, lead acid batteries are leading the charge across warehouses and Distribution Centers (DCs) – and they’re already a much greener option than you might think.

99% of all lead acid battery materials are RECYCLED

According to the Battery Council International, more than 99 percent of all battery lead, plastic and electrolytes is recycled. In fact, lead batteries are something of an unsung environmental success story, as they are the most recycled product in the United States1. Look how they compare to products that typically come to mind when one thinks recycling:

Product                                              Percentage of materials recycled2

Lead-acid batteries                            99%

Corrugated Boxes                               92%

Steel Cans                                          71%

Newspapers/Mechanical Papers          71%

Major Appliances                                62%

Aluminum Cans                                  55%

Mixed Paper                                       44%

Tires                                                   40%

Selected Consumer Electronics            40%

Most new lead acid batteries contain 60 to 80 percent recycled lead and plastic3, both of which are reclaimed from spent batteries at strictly regulated recycling facilities. Roughly speaking, here’s how lead acid battery recycling breaks down by component materials:


Plastic battery covers and cases are crushed into plastic pellets, which are then used to manufacture new cases and covers.


Battery grids, posts and terminals are melted down, producing lead ingots and lead oxide. Recycled lead is used to make new battery grids, while recovered lead oxide is used in new battery manufacturing.


Sodium sulfate crystals are separated from used electrolyte (diluted sulfuric acid) and can be used to manufacture textiles, glass and more. Neutralized electrolyte can be reclaimed and reused for new battery manufacturing, or otherwise safely managed.

It’s a closed-loop lifecycle that can continue indefinitely. The millions of lead-acid batteries now starting vehicles, or powering industrial applications, have been, and can continue to be, recycled many times. It makes lead acid batteries an inherently “green” solution in terms of saving money and resources.

About Harold Vanasse

Harold Vanasse is Senior Director of Marketing, Motive Power Americas for EnerSys, the global leader in stored energy solutions for industrial applications. While serving in a variety of roles over the past 20+ years, Vanasse has been influential in bringing innovative solutions to the material handling industry.


1https://batterycouncil.org/page/RecylingStudy, published in 2017; originally from Advancing Sustainable Materials Management; 2014 Fact Sheet, Environmental Protection Agency, Nov. 2016

2Advancing Sustainable Materials Management; 2015 Fact Sheet, Environmental Protection Agency, published July 2018, https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-07/documents/2015_smm_msw_factsheet_07242018_fnl_508_002.pdf

3https://www.epa.gov/smm, via http://large.stanford.edu/publications/coal/references/epa/, via http://large.stanford.edu/publications/coal/references/epa/ http://large.stanford.edu/publications/coal/references/epa/

Automatic Dimensioning: A Game Changer across the Supply Chain

By Contributing Author | 09/24/2018 | 6:37 AM

By Justine Clark, Transportation & Logistics Marketing Manager, Europe, Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions


Today, the most visible impact of e-commerce has been the need for efficient delivery of more packages in increasingly varied shapes, sizes and weights. This trend has been one of the key drivers behind the industry’s almost universal adoption of dimensional (DIM) weight-based pricing in recent years. The impact of this fundamental transformation has been felt across the supply chain and especially at the ‘first mile’, where speed and accuracy have become the industry’s mantras. As more parcel companies and warehouses are looking toward space optimization and more economies of scale, this is where automatic dimensioning technology can be a game changer. 

Traditionally, the freight cost of a parcel has been determined solely on actual weight, however DIM weight means that the cubic size of the parcel becomes part of the equation. This approach has been the norm in air freight for many years, but it wasn’t until 2013 that - with more and lighter packages in circulation than ever before - it started penetrating the ground transport space. Since then, virtually all major parcel carriers worldwide have adopted DIM weight, seizing the opportunity to improve their profitability. In fact, the global parcels market grew from just over US$310bn in 2016 to almost US$350bn in 2017 [1].

At the first mile of the supply chain, however, many shippers and warehouses have found themselves carrying the cost of this exponential growth. Over the past five years, the price of postage has increased by an estimated 33 percent [2]while warehousing operations have become more complex and costly.   

One obvious reason for this trend is that not only do shipping companies and warehouses need to process growing numbers of parcels of different sizes and shapes; they also need to measure them, generally relying on tape measures. Bearing in mind that, on average, 10–15 seconds are needed to measure each package manually, the consequences can be far reaching and impact supply chain productivity and accuracy.

As shoppers turn to e-commerce and omnichannel offerings, the lines between online and ‘brick and mortar’ retailers and logistics are blurring, with shops operating as mini distribution centers and shipping companies delivering directly to customers. Clearly, slower operations – which ultimately mean slower deliveries – can negatively affect the customer experience, which is now seen as a business priority by the vast majority (67 percent) of supply chain professionals [3]. A retailer’s reputation and revenues could suffer as a result.

Another challenge that comes with manual measurement is ensuring accuracy. Inaccurate volume measurements mean that shipping companies and warehouses may pay carriers more than necessary, potentially loosing revenue. They can also have a negative impact on customer experience, as customers are not charged the correct amount.

Manual processes can also be detrimental to operational efficiency as, without proper measurements in place, it is virtually impossible to accurately plan for how many and what size vehicles are needed to move packages from parcel locations to hubs. In addition, with the huge increase in parcels and cartons shipped, carriers realize that they are exceeding their space constraints first before exceeding weight constraints.  As today it iscostlier to buy or rent warehouse space, companies are forced to maximize their current space.

This is where automatic dimensioning comes in.

Today, there are solutions available on the market that deploy 3D depth-sensing technology to measure the three dimensions of parcels of any shape and size instantly and with extreme precision. Some of these solutions are so advanced, that they can calculate the overall dimensions of a package in less than a second and to within 5 mm (0.2 in) accuracy.

One of the clear benefits of such auto-dimensioning technology is that, with the correct length, width and height information on hand, shippers and warehouses are able to pay carriers and charge customers the correct amount. It also helps reduce the time and costs carriers incur when having to retroactively charge shippers for incorrect measurements. This avoids revenue losses, while strengthening the relationship between shippers, carriers and customers.

Automatic dimensioning can also have a significant impact on productivity. With immediate measurement calculations, around 15 seconds per package can be saved, which can greatly increase the overall worker productivity at a distribution center. Potentially, a shipping company could save enough time to handle 5,700 more parcels over 24 hours.

These dimensioning solutions, when used in warehouses,parcel shops and shipping drop points, can result in higher customer satisfaction for shoppers. Queue times can be shortened as the store clerk or shopper doesn’t have to spend extra time manually measuring a parcel. As an added benefit, the automatic dimensioning system can capture an image of the parcel before it is shipped in order to verify the condition in case of a damage claim.

Finally, with automatically-calculated parcel dimensions on hand, shippers and warehouses can accurately estimate the correct number of vehicles and space per vehicle that is needed to transport packages from drop off locations to hubs. This improves the distribution center’s overall efficiency, helps to cut costs and reduces the environmental impact of inefficient shipments.

These are just some examples of how automatic dimensioning can transform the parcel shipping industry and have a positive impact in distribution centers and warehouses. With e-commerce continuing to grow [4], it is clear that this technology is here to stay. Expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15 percent, automatic dimensioning is already one of the key drivers behind higher levels of productivity and accuracy across the entire supply chain.   



HON_Justine Clark 2017Justine Clark is the Industry Marketing Manager, Transport and Logistics, Europe for Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions. In her role, she is focused on identifying market trends and ways for mobility and data capturetechnology to solve current and future customer needs. An experienced marketer, Justine previously held various marketing positions at DHL Supply Chain.



  1. apex-insight.com/global-parcel-delivery-market-2018
  2. http://www.mhlnews.com/transportation-distribution/dimensional-weight-pricing-problem-or-solution
  3. https://www.getconvey.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/EfTransport-Convey-Whitepaper-FINAL.pdf
  4. https://www.statista.com/statistics/379046/worldwide-retail-e-commerce-sales/



How ELDs Could Give You a Competitive Advantage

By Contributing Author | 09/20/2018 | 6:19 AM

By Will Salter, CEO, Paragon Software Systems

What if the villain of the ELD Mandate story turned out to be a hero?

Like Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, ELDs may well be demonized unfairly. Sure, the zero-tolerance enforcement of drivers’ Hours of Service limitations is widely recognized as removing truck capacity from the market. Installing ELDs takes time and money.

But ELDs could actually turn out to be a surprising force for good. The trick for turning bad to good in this story is to mine the rich data from ELDs and use that power to create unprecedented levels of efficiencies in truck operations.  

Already, full enforcement of the ELD Mandate has brought some unwelcome surprises.  Among these are reports of transit times increasing, as truckers over-estimate the hours needed to complete a given run, in order to avoid Hours of Service (HoS) violations.

In other words, fears of failing to accurately calculate the amount of time needed to complete a delivery are driving greater inefficiencies into freight operations.

Oh great, more inefficiencies

Freight delivery by truck can be a notoriously inefficient business. According to the National Private Truck Council, more than a quarter of US trucks are driving around empty. Even when they're not empty, truck trailers are 36% under-utilized, according to Department of Transport statistics quoted by Homayoun Taherian of Cnergistics.

With the ever-encroaching capacity crunch and driver shortage already hitting hard, the industry can ill afford to let the villain of inefficiency take even greater hold.

The good news is that what may seem to be a force of evil can actually turn out to be a hero. ELDs, by their nature, provide reliably accurate data on truck-driving activities -- including hours driven, idling time and slow traffic. When that data is put to good use, it not only prevents these new inefficiencies creeping in; it reduces other, existing, inefficiencies in the system.

In fact, ELDs – or rather, smart use of them – could end up saving fleet operators so much time and money, they could actually generate a competitive advantage as compelling as catching the Golden Snitch in a game of Quidditch.

Here’s how.

Big data, big benefits

More, richer data is good, but you need help to extract value from it.Routing and scheduling software is hungry for real-life data about road conditions, habitual delays at customer sites and other issues that tend to cast a bad spell on any route plan, and ELDs have plenty of data for the taking. In fact, implementing advance routing and scheduling software that can make the most of this new flood of ELD data can introduce across-the-board savings of 10-30 percent into your freight operations.

Feeding ELD data into routing and scheduling automation software means you can create transport plans that are based on true availability for all of your drivers. This removes the need to manually manipulate the data to ensure HoS restrictions are adhered to.

The drivers’ data entry is fully automated, saving time and eliminating data entry errors while still protecting his or her privacy. Because the software crunches that information to make the most of it, you end up with increasingly accurate estimates of how long a drop will actually take.

For example, you might have planned for a 20-minute stop at a delivery location, but your driver’s ELD tells you the stop is consistently taking 90 minutes. Feeding that data back into future plans improves the routing, plain and simple. The same goes for identifying patterns in idling time, slow traffic and delays. Or, where a driver might typically be using less than the maximum HoS on a particular route, the routing plan will automatically add a delivery leg, or move the driver to another route that maximizes use of the allowance. This is a powerful way to utilize all of your assets to the full. Driver hours are limited; trucks can operate 24 hours a day.

Helps keep drivers happier, too

As an additional benefit, with more accurate route plans, you can push drivers’ hours on the road to the absolute maximum, confident they won’t get stranded with a load at the end of their ten- or 11-hour shift. That means you’ll be maximizing each driver’s earning potential within the HoS limits while helping them avoid fines – an important factor in retaining them.

Clearly every ELD device is different, but companies that have invested in systems that collect HoS data as well as information such as loading time and fuel usage will gain near-magical benefits. This includes the ability to record actual route execution and compare that with the routing plan, to look for and address anomalies.

Driver wages are high, the cost of diesel is going through the roof, fleet operators face a far more competitive market, with more goods hauled and more demand for vehicles than ever. There’s a hell of a lot of competitive pressure out there to make the most of your freight-hauling resources. Villainous as they may appear, ELDs, in conjunction with routing and scheduling software, could turn out to be the Severus Snape who is secretly acting in a beneficial role, helping ensure precious driver resources don’t go to waste.


WillSalterWill Salter is CEO of Paragon Software Systems, which offers routìng and scheduling software to companies operating delivery fleets in over 60 countries. Since taking on the role of CEO in 2002, Will has remained focused on the transportation industry’s need to squeeze the maximum value out of assets and resources. He was named a Provider Pro to Know by Supply & Demand Chain Executive magazine in 2017.


The 10 Most Common Reasons New Freight Brokers Aren’t Successful

By Contributing Author | 09/18/2018 | 6:25 AM

By Eric Weisbrot, chief marketing officer, JW Surety Bonds


Starting a new business is exciting for many, as it lays the groundwork for creating opportunities that are not readily available in the normal nine-to-five grind. That excitement extends to those wishing to start a business in the transportation and logistics industry, particularly because of the high growth rate in the marketplace. Licensed freight brokers have a significant chance of making a name for themselves in the industry as experts predict an increase in the demand for intermediaries to help keep up with the shipping rush. However, just because the opportunity for successful freight brokerage businesses is ripe does not mean everyone who tries will succeed.

Being a successful freight broker from the start requires business know-how as well as specific insight into the industry as a whole. Here are the top 10 reasons new freight brokers miss the mark, and how prospects in the market can set the stage for success.

Not Allocating Enough Capital

Nearly all new businesses require some amount of capital on hand to open the doors, even when the business operates mostly through digital communication and phone calls. Freight brokerage businesses do not have steep requirements for getting started from a financial perspective, but some startup costs must be considered. Freight brokers need to have enough set aside for registering a new business, getting the right equipment and technology tools to manage workflow, and securing a bond, insurance, and cash reserves. Those who fail to plan for these necessary expenses cannot last long in the freight brokerage business.

Misunderstanding Business Requirements

Being a freight broker is appealing to many because it does not require extensive resources or knowledge. However, having a legitimate freight broker business does have specific business requirements that cannot be overlooked. Some freight brokers new to the industry bypass the licensing mandates, either on a state or federal level, while others completely overlook the need to get a freight broker bond. Both of these aspects of the business are necessary components to operate legally, and successful freight brokers follow these rules closely.

Ignoring the Importance of Industry Experience

Having a few years of experience in transportation and logistics goes a long way as a freight broker. Some individuals see the opportunity in the market and assume starting a freight brokerage is as simple as acquiring a leads list, a laptop, and a reliable phone. However, successful freight brokers need experience in the industry to thrive for the long term. Experience can be garnered in several different areas, including trucking, business management, and logistics, but the bottom line is that some level of understanding of the market is needed.

Not Making the Right Connections

Successful freight brokers take time to cultivate strong business relationships, many of which originate from their experience in the industry. Those who are newer to the freight brokerage or transportation business may find it difficult to make these connections right away. However, participating in online forums, talking about opportunities and challenges with carriers and shippers, and being open to new business relationships with other freight brokerage firms is beneficial in overcoming this obstacle.

Avoiding the Tech Train

In transportation, technology is looked upon as either a helping hand or a barrier to overcome. New freight brokers who wish to be successful in launching their business need to embrace the right technology tools from the start. Several digital solutions for managing a freight brokerage business exist, as do technology platforms for business management needs like accounting and payroll. Implementing these resources is necessary in order to be successful over time.

Failing to Market

A significant aspect of operating a freight brokerage business is the ability to market services and solutions to the masses. According to the most recent data, there are more than 13,000 licensed freight brokers operating in the United States, meaning competition is high. New freight brokers should have strategies in place to market their business, whether that is through online, print, or other media outlets.

Leaving Prospects Hanging

Freight brokers who start out with immediate success may find themselves overwhelmed by the number of prospects asking for their help. One of the challenges in being a new, successful freight broker is implementing systems to manage lead flow over time. Fortunately, many lead-management tools are available that can help create a sustainable process for keeping in contact with prospects as they materialize.

Incorrect Pricing

It is often difficult for new freight brokers to set their rates correctly the first time. They either price their services too low and lose out on potential profits, or they create an unrealistic price that pushes them out of the running for new business. Staying up to date with industry trends in pricing and freight rates is beneficial in setting the right price initially and as the business grows.

Avoiding Additional Education

Freight brokers who lean too heavily on their industry experience or previous success may ultimately fail because they overlook the importance of ongoing training and education. Freight broker training courses exist at many colleges and universities around the country, as well as several online schools. Staying up to date on current operations procedures, shipping and carrier needs, and pricing and marketing tactics through freight broker training can make a substantial difference in success or failure as a broker.

Not Doing the Work

Finally, new freight brokers miss the mark in operating a successful, profitable business because they do not put in the time and effort needed. The brokerage business requires constant lead sourcing and follow-up, as well as staying on top of the progress of each job. Additionally, freight brokers need to put in the work of operating their business in line with state and federal regulations over time. Failing to exert the energy required to keep up with all the aspects of a brokerage business will lead to a less-than-successful business.

Avoiding these common mistakes as a new freight broker will help ensure your business stays operating successfully both now and in the future.


Eric WeisbrotEric Weisbrot is the Chief Marketing Officer of JW Surety Bonds. With years of experience in the surety industry under several different roles within the company, he is also a contributing author to the surety bond blog.

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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