Don’t Strike Out on the West Coast

Don’t Strike Out on the West Coast!

The International Longshore Warehouse Union (ILWU) and Pacific Maritime Association began talks May 12 to negotiate the contract set to end June 30. Each side has large demands to be met before an agreement can be made. So the U.S. watches on, hoping not to see the 10-day strike that left dozens of ships idle in 2002.

Be sure to plan your emergency shipments in advance to avoid congestion on the West Coast. You have a few options to devise the contingency plan that best fits your needs should there be a strike:

Stick to the Plan

 You don’t necessarily need to reroute less urgent shipments, and this will be the least expensive option. Remember many carriers plan to institute surcharges if the strike occurs. Carriers will be hesitant to reroute shipments anyway unless a lengthy unrest is expected.

Early Bird Gets the Worm

 Whenever possible, you should schedule shipments to reach port before June 30. Concurrently, account for additional time as the last of June approaches because many others will be taking advantage of the same opportunity.

Change Modes of Transit

 Urgent shipments can be transitioned to air shipments with the help of airport logistics. You can also use a sea to air option for a smaller cost impact.

Reroute to Another Port

 USWC Vancouver or Prince Rupert. Prince Rupert is a possible Inland Port Intermodal gateway but is only serviced by the Canadian National Railway. Capacity may be tight and stack trains are limited. There is no transload facility, either. Vancouver is an option, but there is currently a backlog of 1 to 2 weeks.
 
Mexican gateway at Ensenada, Manzanillo, or Lazaro Cardenas. These are small ports without the ability to handle large-capacity operations. Only Lazaro Cardenas has inland rail options, which have very limited access to the U.S.
USEC & Gulf gateway. While carriers can make it through Panama and Suez, it is likely the International Longshoremen’s Association will refuse to work vessels that were meant to unload at the USWC due to their brotherhood of workmanship. Also, carriers might discharge cargo at main transship points of Panama, Cartagena, and Colon and declare force majeure. Customers will pay the incremental cost to move their containers to each destination if force majeure is declared.
USEC Halifax or Montreal. Though Halifax is an option, it only utilizes the CN, which has limited capacity. Montreal, however uses the CN and Canadian Pacific Railroad and is a better option for IPI cargo. But Montreal’s low-water tides can create problems for larger vessels. It makes planning for carriers extremely complicated.

Intermodal Transport

 Be ready to consider several different modes of transportation for your cargo to ensure a timely arrival no matter the port of arrival.
Though there are many choices, it is unlikely any action will be as effective as keeping the ports open. So, let’s root for an agreement instead and plan for the worst incase.
Please call us at 855-214-2844 or email international@elangham.com for up to the minute updates, or to help move any of your shipments.

Supply Chain Management Can Make or Break your Business

Supply Chain Management Can Make or Break your Business

There are certain elements of business that can make or break a company, and supply chain management is one of those.  A supply chain is a system of companies, people, information, and resources involved in moving a product or service from a supplier to a customer. When the managing of this supply and demand network breaks, the results can impact many other departments and can slow a company’s progress substantially. To manage the supply chain in business is to streamline the company’s supply-side activities in order to maximize profits, improve customer value and benefit competitive advantage within a market. Because so much hinges on productive supply chain management, improper management can be devastating.
The Nuts and Bolts of Supply Chain Management
There are many different aspects of supply chain management, which encompasses the flow of information, materials and finances within an organization. All three of these elements play a role in every step of a product’s movement from the manufacturer to the consumer. Supply chain management can also involve the movement of products to wholesalers and retailers, as well as the return of products from consumers to retailers. Essentially, supply chain management involves the entire life cycle of the product, which exemplifies why it is so integral to the success of a company. Through effective supply chain management, an organization may truly flourish.
 
Tips for Managing the Supply Chain
1.) Mitigate risk in the management of your supply chain.
Respond efficiently and adequately to disruptions that occur. Through analysis and planning, identify potential issues in the supply chain, and then create a structured approach to risk management. Some of these supply chain interruptions will be preventable, while others in your business will only be able to be responded to once they occur. Learn to distinguish between the two and prepare a specific course of action. It is also important to understand what operating risks exist within the industry in order to anticipate potential disasters.
2.) Strengthen links in the supply chain.
Analyze each step in the supply chain to determine where strength and value can be added. A supply chain managed more effectively before disruptions occur may allow for your business to bounce back more quickly and with a less negative impact on the bottom line. Improvements in cost-effectiveness and efficiency of the supply chain before issues occur may greatly mitigate their impact. It will benefit your business to monitor the performance of each step to determine where revenues and productivity may be impacted. Establishing metrics for measurement and tracking are required.
 
3.) Optimize and protect profits.
Even small optimizations can have  a profound impact on the bottom line. Consider improving technologies, cutting costs, adding links and removing links where necessary to optimize the supply chain. The best way to protect profits is to gain as much control as possible over every step in the entire process, from start to finish.
The Bottom Line
Supply chain management is an essential part of any business. Whether you are manufacturing and retailing a product or buying and reselling one, how you manage your supply chain can mean all the difference in your bottom line. Taking steps to protect and improve upon your supply network now can make it simpler to avoid and deal with disruptions that may occur in your business over the long haul.

Crisis Management: What do you do when a supplier suddenly goes out of business?

One of our customers was recently hit with a crisis— one of their suppliers suddenly went out of business. In addition to material sourcing issues, legal and accounting problems were adding to the mound of growing concerns. To add further frenzy to the mix, these products were built to order, which meant that the customer didn’t maintain a safety stock. With only a few days warning, they were left without the parts to manufacture the products needed to meet customer demands.

Unfortunately, things like this happen even with the most advanced technology and planning tools available. When customers are hit with the inevitable disaster, flexibility and rapid response are essential to help get businesses back on track. During times of crises, when your primary concern must be to resolve the situation and keep your customer calm and happy, an extremely valuable and welcome resource is a trusted partner to help you get through it. As a 3PL provider, our job is to manage the logistics aspects of the crisis so that our customer can focus on delivering quality customer care and ensuring that their core business continues uninterrupted.

For this particular situation, our customer quickly agreed with their current supplier to purchase the existing inventory until they could source a new supplier. This wise move bought them enough time call to Langham Logistics to enlist our aid in managing the crisis. With our numerous partners in transportation, we were able to secure the equipment needed to relocate all of the available stock to our Indianapolis warehouse. In addition, we sourced partners that would be able to make multiple runs to replenish the supply as customer orders were created. By working together as a team, our customer was able to focus on sourcing a new parts supplier, while maintaining their customer’s satisfaction, with Langham focusing on the logistics.

For more information on how Langham Logistics can help your company in a time of crisis, call our emergency hotline at 1-855-TRANS911.


Indiana Railroad Improves Transit Times for Imports

With the Indiana Railroad Company and the Canadian National Railway (CN) agreeing to a long term partnership, Indiana companies now have access to a robust network of rail lines with the potential to shave 10 days transit times off imports from Asia-Pacific manufacturers.

The recently formed partnership combines nearly 20,000 miles of railways in Canada with over 500 miles of railways operated by the Indiana Railroad. There are many advantages for Indiana businesses, but among the most compelling is the chance to save on total transit times. Here’s how the partnership will reduce these times for your imports:

1.) The ocean shipping lanes into Vancouver and Prince Rupert have significantly shorter sailing times than the shipping lanes into the US Ports.

2.) The Canadian ports are much less congested than the west coast ports in the United States. Less congestion at the port allows imports to clear customs and get on the rail very quickly.

3.) The rail route from the west coast of Canada avoids the major mountain ranges in the US, saving up to a day in total transit time.

4.) Using the CN and the Indiana Railroads, imports travel through Joliet, IL rather than the overly congested Chicago, IL rail yard.

5.) Shorter drayage travel distance and access to more drayage providers in Indiana.

If you are an importer of goods from the Asia-Pacific region and would like to explore this opportunity, Langham Logistics can help. If you are an exporter to Asia-Pacific, this new partnership can benefit you too.


Saving Millions by Switching from Air to Ocean

As a world-leading biotech company, this company wanted to transition their products from the air to the ocean, significantly cutting their transportation spend. Temperature compliance was the highest priority as each container was valued at $1.5 million. The second priority was delivering the product on time, which can also prove to be difficult for ocean transportation.

Download our case study below and learn how Langham’s custom solutions help save this biotech company millions.


How to Gain Supply Chain Visiblity

Visibility is the holy grail among supply chain managers. They’re all after it for one good reason: increasing the productivity of a supply chain hinges on its visibility.

Before you can improve your supply chain visibility, it’s important to clarify first the meaning of the term. It simply means knowing where inventory is at every stage of the supply chain, from the manufacturer to its final destination.

The only way to gain supply chain visibility is by making sure that data is readily available to all stakeholders. It’s a lofty goal but definitely achievable. Here’s how you can get started.

Foster Open Partnership and Collaboration

The human factor is usually the weakest link in supply chain visibility. It starts with miscommunication and not trusting the other party with information.

If you really want to improve visibility, then start opening up the communication lines. Share information and trust suppliers, third-party logistics providers, and other stakeholders. Present your plan and make sure that their goals align with yours.

An open partnership, more importantly, is a two-way dialog. Listen to your customers and suppliers and use their feedback and expertise to improve your supply chain. All partners will clearly come out as winners once goals and expectations were met.

Invest in the Right Technology.

Technology alone can’t solve logistics problems overnight. But the right technology can help drive better visibility.

You can partner with a service provider that has proven expertise and experience in supply chain technology. Find as many candidates as you can and go for one that truly understands your business and can offer a robust technology infrastructure.

And don’t just invest in technology. Invest in people who can expertly handle your technology infrastructure.

Treat Third-Party Providers as Part of Your Company

The odds are that you’ve already outsourced some work to outside providers and vendors. Sharing information with them is not enough if you want to improve visibility. You have to consider them as a crucial extension of your business. Otherwise, you will lose the ability to track their operations and lack access to vital data.

Additional tip: Work with your business partners on a one-stop-shop “information hub” where key data on all supply chain processes is aggregated and integrated.

Explore Gaps and Refine Your Processes

There may be steps which you can eliminate, opportunities of which you can take advantage, in order to save costs and increase efficiency. You can, for instance, skip incoming inspection by adopting a quality improvement program. Or improve your data quality management to monitor, standardize and troubleshoot data issues.


The Importance of Logistics in the Import and Export Business

The Importance of Logistics in the Import and Export Business

The most valuable and irreplaceable commodity in your life is your time.  This means there is no practical or logical reason why you should waste it trying to figure out the safest, most efficient, and affordable way to ship your products, whether it be across state lines or oceans. Your time should be spent doing what you do best – providing exceptional service and products to your customers.

The importance of logistics in the import and export business is irrefutable and can arguably be one of the most important aspects to the success of your company. Often times the best way to ensure efficient, accurate, and robust supply of your products on time and in the same condition as they left either domestically or internationally, is to hire a third-party logistics company.  Hiring a 3PL provider will not only give you back some of your sacred time, but it also gives you assurance that you will have the resources to promise consistent deliveries to your customer and real-time oversight of the entire process.

Need a few more reasons?

Multi-faceted 3PL companies have a lot to offer under one roof.

From designing customized freight spend management services, supply chain consulting, and providing both domestic and international transportation options, established third-party logistics companies can seamlessly manage all of your logistics needs. This can also include value-added services such as warehousing, fulfillment, and distribution. Experienced providers have also invested the capital to streamline their entire process, which would be cost prohibitive and require an immense level of expertise to try to replicate within your own company.

Land, Sea, and Air: 3PL service providers find the best way to get it there

Working collaboratively with airline, ship, rail, and trucking companies, a 3PL can work with their network to determine the most efficient, safe, and cost-effective way to get your product to the desired destination. Whether it needs to be transported via land, sea, or air, the right service provider can professionally handle, coordinate, and manage the port-to-port and door-to-door pick-up, tracking, delivery, and storage of your goods.

A combination of strengths creates the best 3PL company

To be a top logistics company in the market today, companies must consistently demonstrate certain strengths. This includes: exceptional communication and organizational skills, an ability to foresee (and eliminate) potentially-problematic areas of concern, investment in the right technology, and a zero tolerance for mistakes with a “no-excuses” mindset.

Success is in the details

While it is impossible to micro-manage every aspect of every individual (and their companies) involved in the shipment of your products, it is possible to demand nothing less than professional service every step of the way. Successful logistics companies establish and maintain open and ongoing communication with their clients, their providers, and the buyers’ representatives receiving the deliveries. This should give you peace-of-mind and ensure that you don’t have to waste energy worrying about where a shipment is, if it’s safe, and that it will be delivered on time.

Your product is important to you and getting it to its destination – on time, within budget, and undamaged – is critical. Focus on manufacturing and creating top-notch products and the best service possible for your customers. Let an established, quality-oriented logistics company handle the rest.


Understanding LTL: How to Save on Shipping

Deciding how to ship products can be challenging. There are many options, and there are many carriers from which to choose. When making this decision, keep in mind that all companies and carriers are not created equal, and a little research can save money in the long run.

Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) shipping is for shipments that are too large to be shipped as parcel but not large enough to fill up a truck. There is often a discount given by LTL carriers, beginning at 150 pounds on a pallet and going up to 6,000 pounds on six pallets. Large shipments can be sent via LTL shipping, but do not get the discount that light loads receive.
Another benefit in choosing LTL shipping is that many carriers will allow companies to combine their shipment with other companies’ shipments. The freight is transported through a hub-and-spoke system, which means it is passed between trucks and freight centers until it arrives at its destination.
Although there are many benefits to this method of shipping freight, it can be difficult to understand how LTL rates are charged. There are several factors that determine the rate, and depending on those factors, the total shipping cost may be significantly affected.
What you should know about LTL rates
All LTL carriers set their own independent base rates. The base rate of the LTL is quoted per 100 pounds, and there are several Weight Brackets. The rate calculation depends on the following factors: Weight, Origin and Destination, Total Distance, and Freight Classification.
Weight: The more a shipment weighs, the LESS it will cost per hundred pounds. As the weight of a shipment approaches the next higher Weight Bracket, the carrier will make the calculation to see if adding a small amount of weight to the actual shipping weight and moving the shipment into the next Weight Bracket may, in fact, reduce the total cost of the shipment. If so, that is what he will do.
Origin and Destination: Many Zip Codes are served directly by each carrier. However, if the destination Zip Code is outside the carrier’s region, the shipment will be transferred to a different carrier, which could lead to a higher cost. 
 
Total Distance: As expected, in general, the further the shipment has to travel, the higher the base rate will be.
Freight Classification: In freight classifications, the higher the class (the larger the number), the higher the base rate will be. The factors which make up each classification are: Stowability, Handling and Liability, and Density of the product. The lower the number, the lower the risk for the freight.

As with any purchase, one should understand the hidden factors and benefits. LTL shipping is a good option for loads of an in-between size. Understanding how base rates are calculated make it easier to decide which path to choose.


5 Things You Need to Know about Expedited Freight

In the fast-paced, global economy of today, prompt, reliable freight shipping is more important than ever for businesses. No matter where one is shipping goods, consumers and business partners expect delivery more quickly than ever before. This is especially true for urgent, time-sensitive deliveries.

When one needs something delivered on a set time-frame, there is no time to waste on trucks making multiple delivery stops along inefficient routes. Due to the time-sensitive and often long distance shipping needs of the modern economy, expedited freight services have become a very popular method of shipping. Here are five things which the user of freight services should know:
What is expedited freight?
The basic goal of expedited freight shipping is to cut out all wasted time and get the goods where they need to go on a time-sensitive delivery basis. There are multiple methods used to accomplish this. For one, trucks shipping expedited freight rarely stop along the way. The precious cargo being delivered is the keystone of the route. Expedited freight services streamline the shipping process to get goods delivered in the timeliest manner possible.
Who uses expedited freight services?
Anyone who needs a package delivered by a certain time can employ the use of expedited freight. Shipments can be both large and small, from a few letters to a few pallets to a full truckload. Some common users of expedited freight are: Medical facilities in need of emergency supplies; Factories in need of timely inventory replenishment or to meet a manufacturing schedule; and Operators of oil drilling or mining facilities who need vital parts to keep their operation going when important machinery breaks down. These are prime examples, but anyone can use expedited freight services when they have a shipment needing extremely urgent delivery.
How do logistics plan into expedited freight?
As anyone who ships goods knows, logistics play a key role in an efficient, effective shipping process. With expedited freight services, the person shipping the goods can track their shipment at any time. This gives the shipper peace of mind by knowing his urgent shipment is “on track”. In addition, a good expedited freight company will assist in the logistics of shipping from start to finish, helping the shipper develop a headache-free plan to get his goods where they need to go.
What distances does expedited freight shipping cover?
There is no limit on the distance that an expedited shipment can cover. Whether the shipper needs goods shipped across town or across the country, an expedited freight company can plan and execute that delivery in a timely manner. This is another area in which logistics come into play. When coordinating a long-distance delivery, there are many factors involved which a reputable expedited freight company will effectively manage and streamline.
Are expedited freight services just for big businesses?
No. Any business or individual can use expedited freight services to get their goods where they need to go. An experienced expedited freight company will work to deliver loads of any size, coordinating all of the necessary elements of an urgent shipment.

With expedited freight services, including the shipment of goods and logistical coordination, anyone making an urgent shipment can have the confidence and peace of mind that their shipment will arrive on time. No matter the size of the load or the type of goods being shipped, an experienced expedited freight company will be ready and willing to handle the job.


Planes, Trains, and Truckloads: Essential Strategies for Managing Your Supply Chain

Logistics and supply chain management are major industries in Indiana. The state’s central location provides ready access to national and international markets. One factor in a business’ success is its ability to expertly and economically move goods around the state, the nation, and the world. Businesses are challenged to competitively move and store raw materials, optimize inventory, analyze consumer demand, and transport finished goods from production to distribution centers and the end customer. Supply chain/logistics experts use technology and information systems to trace produce, improve efficiency and productivity, and provide businesses with the skills and visibility to plan, execute, and monitor every aspect of the transportation process.

Freight Spend Management Programs
Supply chains are becoming increasingly complex. Companies may have offices and plants in remote countries, as well as suppliers and customers. Freight costs and regulations vary by country. Businesses face local freight assessment and payment requirements unrelated to other financial management costs. Most businesses do not have a centralized freight spend management platform capable of reciprocal connectivity with other, related information systems. When businesses operate without this connectivity, controlling freight cost is impossible and expenses soar.
Freight management programs offered by strategic 3PLs provide global solutions to businesses that allow them to manage freight execution and cost. Businesses should consider programs that offer accurate local regulations and logistics information, multi-currency and multi-lingual competencies, and have the ability to access all pertinent data and correlate it with other significant information such as currencies and exchange rates.
A good freight spend management program lets businesses calculate and modify shipment costs while planning loads to make the most of available capacity. Payment options are streamlined, and businesses can proactively monitor the movement of their goods from origin to destination.
Supply Chain Consulting
Mismanaged supply chains result in profit erosion. Global supply chains are exceedingly difficult to manage due to constantly changing demands for products with shorter life cycles, supply chain bottlenecks, and inability to make good use of developing technologies. Supply chain makeovers can result in increased fill rates, reduced inventories, and improved customer satisfaction. Expert supply chain consultants offer valuable information about network design services which produce these results.
Supply chain consultants conduct in-depth analyses, including measurement of damaged product, delays, and returns. They identify shifts in demand, production, and other expense considerations. Global opportunities are identified and support staff is provided to help with detailed or complicated initiatives.
Domestic and International Transportation Management
Transportation management allows businesses to manage the flow of domestic and international freight by connecting with hundreds of operators of aircraft, railroads, ocean vessels, and trucks. Management system platforms are available that incorporate both private and for-hire transportation methods and integrate cross-border custom requirements and other transportation factors. A transportation management platform allows businesses to:
  • Manage carriers and necessary contracts
  • Design route instructions with quote/rate shipments
  • Calculate the best mode and carrier combinations
  • Improve warehousing procedures with specific dock appointment scheduling
  • Track shipments.
Warehouse Management System
Warehouse management systems use technology to monitor the flow of product in and out of storage facilities. Efficient systems provide the data which enable businesses to cut expenses by minimizing the quantity of products in storage while assuring that there is enough product on hand to meet demand.
Fulfillment
The fulfillment goals of businesses and supply chain management experts are to deliver the right quantity, of the right product, to the right location, at the right time, in the right condition, for the right price. Accomplishing these goals can definitely help a business to be more successful.