Business People Sitting in an Office Building Chatting

Is Blockchain The New Supply Chain?

Blockchain!  The new hip and technical term everyone is hearing more about; what is it exactly and how will it affect your Supply Chain in the very near future?

Throughout modern history, the majority of anything involving the sale/transfer of goods and services between two or more parties was recorded on some form of a physical ledger. With the development of the computer and the internet over the last several decades, technology has proven that the use of a physical ledger is no longer efficient and can be highly risky for business.

Technology dictates how we buy and sell and keeping records of that has become increasingly more complex and leaves too much room for inaccurate data and in some cases, even fraud.

Take for example, a widget manufacturer; the company’s supply chain can be vast.  Sourcing materials from multiple vendors, assembling products lines and having third party logistics providers transport product direct to customers. Without Blockchain technology, a company is forced to rely on transactional data from multiple intermediaries who own and control their data.  This is inefficient as parts of the data can be changed by various owners and therefore, visibility for the manufacturer and other parties in the supply chain is highly limited.

And here’s where Blockchain technology can be a game-changer– as every transaction or data input occurs, it would be placed into its own “Block.”  When another Block of data is created it is then linked to the previous Block.  All parties have permission to see the data Blocks and once they are created, they cannot be changed, moved or deleted unless all parties involved review and agree to the changes. This is HUGE for transparency. Who doesn’t love transparency? Especially with your own business – honesty is the best policy, I always say.

As technology continues to develop there will be more and more room for error and fraud.  Blockchain is a simple and efficient solution to provide value and security for companies, consumers and logistics providers to ensure that the data they operate off of is correct and tamper proof.

WSJ

No longer your father’s supply chain!

It’s obviously no longer your father’s supply chain!  We have all been witnesses of what we consider significant changes to traditional supply chains.  The Wall Street Journal is now reporting that Kellogg Company will remove the leg of actual store deliveries from its traditional supply chain to retail grocery stores and just deliver their sought after goods directly to the grocery store warehouses.  This means the grocery chains will now have the responsibility to handle the actual store deliveries.

So what’s the impact here, well for Kellogg, they intend to close 39 distribution centers and will eliminate approximately 1000 jobs.  So for Kellogg workers this is certainly a major blow.  For the grocery chains, this means more goods moving through their distribution centers for actual store delivery; obviously at additional costs.  We also wonder if the reduced costs Kellogg will benefit from by making these changes will be passed onto their customers in terms of reduced prices for the “delivered” goods.  Somehow we don’t think that will be the case however.

Here is a link to the full article.

parcel auditing service how it works at ICC Logistics

The Three Biggest Mistakes Parcel Shippers Make!

Several key factors in today’s fast-paced business world are driving the explosive growth of online shopping.  These factors, such as millennials, (and others for that matter),desire to shop on line, rather than in physical stores; the growth of entrepreneurs starting new businesses to sell just about anything online; and manufacturers needing to sell at the wholesale as well as at the retail level.

The net result of these factors and others, is more and more companies are utilizing parcel carriers to deliver their products to the ultimate consumer.  With this growth comes a need and responsibility to clearly and thoroughly understand all of the rules, regulations, rates, shipping options and legal ramifications of dealing with the parcel industry as a whole.  Today, we’d like to explain what we believe are the Three Biggest Mistakes Parcel Shippers Make.

  1. Not Benchmarking Competing Carrier’s Rates and Services– The first mistake we believe parcel shipper’s make is not understanding all of the options available to them from the ever-growing list of parcel carrier service providers.  Time and time again we witness shippers who never step outside their comfort zone to interview, review and analyze various competing carrier services to benchmark whether they have a good deal or not.  The reality is, if a shipper does not continually benchmark their services and rates they are paying, by default, they accept the status quo and oftentimes that means paying much more for transportation services than they really need to.

Yes, we thoroughly understand that switching volumes of business from a long time preferred parcel carrier may come with some implementation pain.  However, if a parcel shipper does not test the competitive waters they may be boxing themselves into paying higher rates year after year.  Another key point to take into consideration is service level comparisons.  Oftentimes, regional parcel carriers can deliver products faster in certain lanes compared to some national carriers.  What about USPS as an alternative?  This is not your father’s Post Office any longer.

Some additional food for thought; do cable companies, home alarm companies, mobile phone service providers, and other service companies charge their longtime customers more for services than they charge their new customers?  You bet they do and unless a parcel shipper analyzes all of the options available to them on an on-going basis, they will probably pay more year after year as well.  If a parcel carrier feels they have a “lock” on a shippers business, (primarily because the shipper has never utilized a bid process to evaluate the benefits of competing carriers), what incentive would that carrier have to publish lower rates?  That’s correct, absolutely none.  The fact is the incumbent carrier may turn out to be the best choice for a particular shipper, but unless that shipper benchmarks services and rates of competing carriers, they will never ever really be sure.

  1. Read The Fine Print, and More– Most parcel carriers provide their shipper customers with a pricing agreement or contract which outlines the various services to be provided and the associated rates and charges they have agreed to assess for those services.  Warning to parcel shippers!  Don’t just sign the agreement without reading it thoroughly to make sure all of the terms and conditions are EXACTLY as you and the carrier agreed to.  Here are several questions we would ask every parcel shipper who has recently negotiated a new pricing agreement or re-negotiated a contract with a parcel carrier.
  • Did you agree to a Guaranteed Service Refund Waiver with your parcel carrier sales representative?  No, then why is it now in your contract?
  • What Dimensional Weight Divisor did you and the parcel carrier agree would be published?  Is that the Divisor that is now published in your new contract?
  • Do you understand that many parcel carriers make their contracts subject to provisions of a service guide that is not a physical part of the transportation contract you are signing?
  • Do you know the parcel carriers can change the provisions of those service guides at will and do not need to specifically notify each and every one of the customers when they do?
  • Parcel carriers typically provide differing pricing incentives for various service levels, are you sure all of the discounts and incentives have in fact been published exactly as you and the parcel carrier agreed to in your negotiation sessions

Why ask these questions?  Precisely because for some parcel shippers these exact issues have arisen and many of these companies never identified them until it was too late; so our advice to all parcel and freight shippers for that matter is; Caveat Emptor, let the buyer beware!

And, one final point, a very important point; we strongly recommend that each and every parcel carrier contract, or any transportation or logistics services contract for that matter, should be reviewed by a                 qualified Transportation Attorney, before any of those contracts are signed.

  1. Continually Audit Parcel Carrier Invoices– Once the contract has been signed, all parcel shippers should ensure they have a qualified third party audit firm auditing each and every invoice to make sure the rates being charged are the rates the shipper agreed to in its pricing agreement or contract.  The auditors will also be able to file for refunds for Guaranteed Late Delivered packages, as long as the shipper has not waived their right to file such claims.

Parcel Audit firms also provide on-line access to their client’s pertinent shipping data and can even report results based on specific Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) their shipper customers agree to.  They also provide continuous and meaningful reports on a variety of different metrics so the parcel shipper always has their finger on the pulse of what’s going on with their parcel shipping expenses.  We’ve all heard the statement, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” and unless your firm has the technical expertise to generate this critical shipping data in-house, outsourced parcel audit firms have all the reporting power a parcel shipper would ever need.

google autonomous package delivery vehicles

Google’s Patent on Self-Driving Package Delivery Vehicle

Rapid technological advancements in the last 10 years have taught us that what the norms are today, may not be the norms tomorrow.

For as long as automobiles have been around, there have been people behind the wheel.  What would you think if you glance over to the car or truck next to you and notice that it is driving all by itself?  I personally thought I would have to wait a long time before seeing something like that, but now it is becoming a reality for the near future.

Last February 9, Google filed a patent for its new package delivery platform – the autonomous self-driving vehicles. These vehicles are designed to receive destination information with a package securing subsystem, allowing self-driving cars to drive and deliver packages to desired location. This concept of delivering packages is not new to Amazon. The e-commerce giant has also been exploring ways to deliver packages using drones.

On Google’s patent abstract, it envisions its package delivery platform as “An autonomous road vehicle is operative to receive destination information, and to drive a destination based on the destination information. A package securing subsystem is attached to the autonomous road vehicle and comprises at least one securable compartment. Each securable compartment is operative to secure at least one package therein. Each securable compartment is associated with compartment access information. An access sub-system comprising at least one access information interface. The access subsystem is operative, upon receipt through the access information interface of compartment access information, to permit access to the compartment associated with the received compartment access information.” [Source: rcrwireless(dot)com]

The idea is that a self-driving truck will pull over outside your house at the set time of the delivery and will identify the compartment containing your package. Each compartment requires an access code for the package to be released. Google’s autonomous vehicles are currently being tested in some states including California, Texas, and Washington.

Google, Uber, Lyft, Tesla and Apple have taken extraordinary steps in the last several years to make this a viable alternative for people and companies.

This mass initiative is already active in the transportation and logistics industry; autonomous ocean freighters and trucks along with drones dropping packages at our front doors, are just some of the advancements that will be here in the next 10-15 years.

It will be exciting to see how this all unfolds.

Original article:

http://www.rcrwireless.com/20160210/connected-cars-2/google-patents-autonomous-delivery-platform-tag17?shared=email&msg=fail

 

Amazon Logistics Services

Where Is Amazon Headed With Amazon Logistics Services?

Could Amazon’s Logistics Services Be the Future of the Logistics Industry?

According to an article written by Zvi Schreiber, Amazon’s logistics services could be the future of the logistics industry. The future deployment of Amazon’s technological innovation could disrupt existing freight leaders like UPS, FedEx, and DHL.

Beijing Century Joyo Courier Services, which is known to be Amazon’s subsidiary, has recently registered with the U.S. government as an ocean shipping provider. This development showed that Amazon had already expanded its logistics presence, not just with air transportation and trucking. Amazon’s entry into the freight industry will have a huge impact on international sellers, importers and end consumers.

Last 2014, Amazon focused on logistics components that were previously outsourced to expand its supply chain – first inbound logistics and then home delivery. The company offered outsourced consolidation for international sellers, which leveraged bulk discounts for less expensive United States import rates.

Last December 2015, for the company to decrease its operating costs and not depend on external providers, Amazon packages were delivered by their own employees, while launching a crowdsourced delivery service. Recently, Amazon has revealed features and developments of its drone-delivery program.

According to the article, “Amazon‘s international revenue growth has stagnated, falling to a 12 percent growth in 2014 – modest in Amazon terms.” Could Amazon’s investment into Services help it get back on the growth curve?

What Amazon is continuously doing is extending its internal services into third-party services to reduce fulfillment and logistics costs. Could existing freight leaders keep pace with Amazon’s technological innovation? If history repeats itself, we can predict that whatever comes of this investment will be big and have a significant industry impact.

We’ll have to see.

To find out more about the implications of Amazon’s entry into the freight industry, read the original article:

http://www.supplychain247.com/article/amazon_logistics_services_the_future_of_logistics/freightos?ajs_uid=9807D0444578F9T/

Amazon Logistics Services

New Details Surface About Amazon’s Drone Delivery Program In An Interview With Paul Misener

Last year, Amazon announced its plan of implementing a drone delivery program, which the company considers as an innovative way of delivering packages to its customers. The company is said to be working with aeronautical engineers, roboticists, and a former NASA astronaut to make this program a reality. Amazon has released a video last month, showing a prototype of an automated drone that shares features of both helicopters and airplanes.

David Pogue of Yahoo Tech, revealed new details about the e-commerce giant’s drone delivery program from his interview with Paul Misener, Amazon’s Vice President for Global Public Policy.

The following are the details discussed during the interview:

  • The drone delivery program is part of Amazon’s Prime Air delivery services that would deliver packages, weighing about 55 lbs., to customers within 30 minutes.
  • Amazon will be using different kinds of drones designed for different kinds of delivery circumstances.
  • The drones are highly automated, which uses a send-and-avoid technology.
  • To prevent drones from interfering with air travel, Amazon will create a certain kind of airspace that would keep the drones separated from the aircrafts. There would be a no-fly zone between 400 and 500 feet. The delivery drones’ transit zone would be between 200 and 400 feet.
  • Amazon hopes to first implement this program in the United States, however, FAA still doesn’t have regulations in place.

Amazon is anticipating a lot of challenges in making this radical idea a reality. Can this new way of delivering packages become successful?

To find out more details about Amazon’s drone delivery program, you can read the transcript here: https://www.yahoo.com/tech/exclusive-amazon-reveals-details-about-1343951725436982.html.

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