Onboard New Carriers in Seconds Instead of Hours

Freight procurement is a critical process within the supply chain. The key to success is moving goods on time while paying a fair market price, so end customers’ sales orders arrive on schedule. One of the primary puzzle pieces to freight procurement is securing compliant carriers (trucks and drivers) to move the freight. Unfortunately, the carrier onboarding process is cumbersome. According to Dean Corbolotti, VP of Managed Services at Sleek Technologies, “Onboarding new carriers correctly can take hours at best. And with everything else the transportation team has to juggle, it’s no wonder they limit the number of carriers they do business with."  Finding and Vetting Carriers  Finding and vetting carriers is a time-consuming process, which is required before any carrier can be added into a shipper's network. Traditionally, shippers would go to a public board and look for carriers based on specific criteria. They would dig into things like compliance, safety, accountability (CSA) scores, insurance/ liability, and operating authorities. Once a carrier passes the initial screening process, forms and data entry are required to solidify the new partnership which slows down the process even more.  Automating Carrier Onboarding  Updating the manual process of finding, vetting, and onboarding new carriers with automation software makes the process much faster. It goes from hours to seconds. Using a shipper’s specific load attributes, along with the carrier’s attributes, AI/ML algorithms go to work to dynamically match loads to compliant carriers. All of the onboarding leg work is done dynamically, eliminating the need for manual research. Plus with automatic daily compliance checks, shippers gain peace of mind!  Expanding Freight Capacity  Without automation, shippers rely...

Port of Oakland Strike, What’s Next?

On November 2nd, the flow of goods was halted for several hours as hundreds of International Longshore and Warehouse Union workers walked off the job at the Port of Oakland due to stalled contract negotiations which demanded better pay and benefits. By 6 PM, dock workers returned to the ports and operations resumed. Unfortunately, this serves as yet another stark reminder that logistics is unpredictable– especially when the front line is unhappy.  Dock & Warehouse Worker Threats  wsws.org reported that 83% of Port of Oakland clerks (200 out of 240) have outstanding wage claims dating back to June. Arbitration isn’t possible right now because there is no signed union agreement. 22,000 West Coast longshoremen are working without a signed contract. It’s surprising that union officials have been successful in suppressing US-based strikes, dodging a major bullet on September 16th when 200 Canadian dock and warehouse workers went on strike shutting down ports in Vancouver, British Columbia. Had US workers joined the strike, all West Coast ports from Canada to Mexico would have been shut down. Fast forward to late October, when 800 Port of Mobile Longshoremen decided not to strike with promises of returning to the bargaining table. Unfortunately, West Coast issues are not isolated. Wages, benefits, job security, and safety are global issues for dock workers who have protested in Germany, South Africa, England, Canada, and Australia.  Independent Truck Driver Threat  In addition to longshoremen's instability, we also need to keep in mind independent truck drivers. If you recall, independent truck drivers demonstrated at LA and Oakland ports in mid-July because they opposed the AB5 legislation (reclassifying drivers as...

Should Contracted Carriers Now Be in The Hot Seat?

Heading into the end of the year usually means an uptick in carrier demand as the fourth quarter is generally the busiest time of year for most shippers. But this year, we are seeing a different picture caused by inflation and stockpiling of goods.  Stockpiling & Inflation  To be proactive, many merchants overstocked goods early to avoid the supply chain issues from a year ago. As we all know, last year, supply chain disruptions resulted in empty shelves, and Holiday demand that could not be fulfilled in time for Christmas morning. Retailers, manufacturers, and distributors opted to ship and hold Holiday inventory much earlier this year. So instead of huge Holiday shipments hitting the ports all at once, shipments staggered in.  But that’s not the only factor. As inflation continues to make waves, analysts have agreed that consumers will purchase fewer gifts in 2022. In fact, they are predicting 9 gifts compared to 16 gifts from last year. Lower inventory that needs to be imported, combined with lower customer spending creates the perfect storm for a fourth-quarter plunge in freight capacity demand.  Contracted Carrier Pricing   The fourth quarter is typically the busiest time of year for shippers because of all the holiday traffic. Usually, brokers and the spot market make out like bandits this time of year, as carrier demand outweighs carrier supply. But with fewer shipments, many shippers are relying on contracted carriers to move goods.  So, the key question for ALL shippers should be… “Are my contracted rates this Holiday season, aligned with true market cost”? As spot rates continue to decline, and shippers rely more on contracted...

Top Tips For Over-the-Road Shippers to Build Sustainability

Did you know it is estimated that some 20 million trucks each year are mismatched to loads? And when mismatching occurs, trucks run empty on the backhaul. This is important because every time a truck moves it omits harmful carbon emissions into the air and our environment. Shippers dedicated to sustainability efforts are doing their part to ensure their loads are matched to carriers at the right time and place, so trucks run with purpose– with product.  Finding the right truck, at the right time, is not as easy as it sounds, especially if a shipper still relies on traditional freight procurement processes to source capacity. Forward-thinking shippers, focused on sustainability, have completely changed their mindset on how to source capacity, and have embraced new solutions that automate the critical freight procurement process turning it from static to dynamic.  Embracing AI and Freight Procurement Automation Technology With automation, AI/ML algorithms go to work to dynamically match configured shipper load attributes with compliant, asset-based carriers at the right time and place. When loads and trucks are connected at the right time, empty miles and CO2 emissions are drastically reduced making over-the-road transportation more sustainable.  Sleek Technologies, the leader in freight procurement automation and an official SmartWay partner for six years running, designed their freight procurement SaaS platform [called OTS] to help shippers uncover sustainability opportunities by always matching a load with the right carrier. Without a middleman standing in between, it’s a win, win for both the shipper and carrier. Carriers reduce empty miles while shippers find the best truck for their cargo, which means they deliver on time and at a...
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Rail Disruption Impacts Truckload Capacity & Price

For months now, the supply chain has continued to battle one issue after another. Many shippers have had to modify the way they move goods due to backed-up ports, labor shortages, and lack of truckload capacity. And rail disruption is no exception, especially off the West Coast.  In fact, Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority (ACTA) reported that the share of imports hauled by rail from Los Angeles/Long Beach fell to an all-time low Jan- April 2022, dropping 40%+ YoY. And while imports dropped, the average daily number of intermodal trains serving the ports dropped from 33 in 2019 down to 27 in 2022.  “Unfortunately, rail disruption is not an isolated issue”, said Michael Paul, VP Sleek Sales. “As with any mode of transportation, when disruption occurs all modes are impacted as shippers try to figure out how to keep goods moving so they deliver on time. To prove this point, DAT reports very tight capacity in LA and Abilene, TX with load to truck ratios reaching 4:1, which will cause over-road rates to increase during the fall peak season.”    Congestion at West Coast ports, along with the threat of labor shortages and strikes, has led to a steady increase of trade moving away from the West Coast to the East Coast. To understand market share, one can refer to trends in container volumes. From January through May, Port of New York import containers increased 11.5%  while Port of New Jersey increased 6.5%. To make matters worse, ports have begun to see an unusually early arrival of holiday products, including Christmas trees and Winter appeal. Household appliances are also part of long...
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How Industry 4.0 Has Helped Advance Freight Procurement

Buzz words come and go, quickly. But it seems “Industry 4.0” might stick around for a while as manufacturers continue to search for innovative ways to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase their profits. Industry 4.0 has revolutionized the way companies manufacture and distribute goods. And those who were slow to join the digital transformation movement have finally realized they need to catch up by replacing manual, outdated processes which hinder agility and the ability to remain resilient during unforeseen challenges.    Given how unstable and chaotic the supply chain has been over the last 24 months, experts agree that manufacturers who embrace Industry 4.0 will have a much greater chance of survival. So what exactly do manufacturers need to embrace to make their operations smarter? Industry 4.0 refers to the convergence and application of innovative digital industrial technologies, such as advanced robotics, additive manufacturing, augmented reality, simulation, cloud, integration, and cybersecurity. Two major themes stand out: AI-powered automation and real-time analytics! AI-powered Automation Automation helps minimize human involvement in critical processes, reducing wasted time and money. AI’s inherent ability to learn and continuously improve on-the-fly will make any manual process more efficient and productive. For example, freight procurement (a critical supply chain process) has relied on transportation RFPs to help source contracted carriers to ship goods. As with any request for proposal, many hours and human capital are used to complete the process. AI-powered automation technology has advanced freight procurement by using unique shipper attributes and proprietary algorithms to dynamically match the perfect pool of carriers to shipper loads. When the right carrier– at the right location and price–...