Best Practices

3PLBest Practices

By Jordan Pottorff, CTB Shippers shopping for the best rate on a per load basis or going out for bid every year to secure cheap capacity has been a long-standing practice in our industry. It’s a method that has benefited shippers across the country for years, but with our industry changing at such a rapid pace, is rate shopping really the best way for shippers to manage their freight? When I talk with shipping managers and other decision-makers about their freight, a common response I get is, “I just go out for quotes, and the best price wins. Send me an email, and I’ll get you added to my list.” For years the transactional freight relationship of having hundreds of brokers and carriers on a quote list has got the job done and never forced shippers to look at their internal operations when it comes to available capacity until now. The rate-shopping email blast practice of yesteryear won’t get any shipper-of-volume the return they want in today’s climate. The market has changed and is now putting a high amount of stress on shippers who don’t have strong relationships to fall back on. The ones who saw the market shift coming and planned accordingly likely have put new procedures in place that search for more than the cheapest price in a carrier or broker. For the ones who haven’t, now is a perfect time to start. A few things a shipper should consider when sourcing available capacity is the amount of lead time you provide a carrier or broker, being flexible with pickup and delivery appointments, and considering all forms of transit if it’s not a time-critical shipment. The ability to intertwine these methods - - paired with implementing procedures to minimize the amount of time carriers spend waiting at your facility - - will open the doors to additional capacity with quality carriers. Another step shippers need to consider is the volatility of the market. Going out for bid in today’s market does not make sense. You will secure rates that will compare to the spot market and not get you the desired results you’re searching for, which is affordable capacity with a quality provider. Shippers would be better off partnering with a smaller crop of carriers or brokers with strong carrier networks that will cover the necessary volume while working together to create a pricing model that benefits everyone involved. When looking internally and taking the current market and everything talked about above into consideration, a shipper will want to partner with a carrier or broker with strong technological offerings that aid in visibility and reporting to improve on-time deliveries and overall performance. A brokerage or carrier with service offerings such as a customer portal, various forms of tracking, a freight spend and on-time reporting tool, and 24/7 availability could be the difference in meeting your goals or continuing to struggle in this market. Lastly, implementing or partnering with a provider who offers a Transportation Management System (TMS) is the best way to streamline your operation, as studies show shippers who operate with a TMS see 12% savings on their freight. A TMS provides data and analytics that will provide hard data for shippers to review. This information could be looked at to gauge overall costs or determine areas that need improvement across the board as you look for internal improvement or prepare for your next procurement exercise. All told, our industry is changing and the way shippers manage their freight is different than in times past. It’s important shippers know the pulse of our industry and plan accordingly for what will best fit their operation now and in the future....
Best Practices

By Jordan Pottorff, CTB It’s no secret the transportation industry is going through an immense amount of change right now. The ELD mandate, the driver shortage crisis, the increased demand for autonomous trucks, and a capacity crunch across the country sending rates through the roof have come together to create a nearly unprecedented point in our industry’s history. Let’s take a look at the ELD mandate which is now in full effect. The entire industry is currently in a feel-it-out process. Rates are spiking and hours of service are interrupting normal transit times, while brokers, carriers, and shippers are working through an adoption and familiarity phase. Responsibility to conceive a fluid system will spread out to carriers, brokers, and shippers, but the major onus to counteract the requirements that come with the ELD mandate is on the shipper. In a recent American Trucker article, a notable carrier said, “ELDs were installed in all my trucks before the ELD Mandate. There have been many changes in dispatching. So far, all delivery times have been rescheduled due to long hold times at the shipper. Problems at shippers now heavily reflect on drivers’ hours. This must be addressed to operate efficiently for both drivers and company owners. Brokers need to be aware of HOS (hours of service) and understand the law to build freight accordingly.” Collaboration between all parties is key and will be paramount to a smooth operation. Shippers must streamline their processes to ensure the product is ready when the appointment is scheduled to avoid late deliveries and hours of service issues. If not, shippers will face the harsh reality of consistently higher rates. While the ELD mandate will require innovative solutions from shippers, the driver shortage crisis is forcing carriers to think outside the box. Some carriers are getting creative by offering incentives never before seen. To attract new talent, Celadon is offering drivers paid vacation, but that’s not all. They are also offering an $8,000 sign-on bonus for team drivers and an $8,000 sign-on incentive for lease purchase operators--both earned as mileage is accrued. Covenant is joining the fight against driver shortage and changing transit times by offering a $40,000 performance-based bonus for team drivers that will be paid out as mileage is accrued with each driver able to earn up to $20,000 in bonuses. Creativity, commitment, and innovation are necessary to navigate the current upheaval and volatility. At AM Transport, we operate primarily as a 3PL but also act as a part-time consulting firm to plot the course through these uncharted waters with our robust carrier network and solid customer base. We predicted the hurdles we are now jumping through and have planned accordingly, but at the end of the day it comes down to education and keeping our customers and core carriers in the loop. Tough conversations with carriers and shippers will continue to be necessary as no one can accurately predict when the market will stabilize, but relationships and value-added services will be king at the end of the day. Technological advancements, tracking updates & visibility tools, 24/7 communication and accessibility, and on-time pickup and delivery percentages will matter more than ever. Whether you are a carrier, dealer or shipper, we are here to help guide you through what is becoming the new norm in our industry....
3PLBest PracticesGPS

By Jesse Baker, CTB With Technology rapidly advancing in the Transportation industry, it is important to understand some of the foundations for what is starting to become common place.  Today, we will focus on GPS.  Everybody has heard the term, but let’s dive in to exactly what it is and how it works. GPS, short for Global Positioning System, uses three parts to help either ourselves or others locate where we are.  So what are these parts and how do they work?  Let’s check it out! Satellites – Satellites, which orbit our earth, are in set positions.  Thus we can rely on them to give accurate feedback for location.  There are thousands of satellites available to be used by receivers.  This is where you have probably heard “triangulate their location” as 3 (or more!) satellites are being used to bring to a point the location of the receiver. Receiver – The receiver is the device that sends out the signal to the satellite.  This is very commonly your phone, but can also be that new ELD or several other devices.  Once the receiver sends a signal to several satellites, it will calculate its distance from them and be able to diagnose an extremely accurate location! Ground Station – The ground stations are the regulators for the satellites.  They make sure they have not drifted off course, and if they have, they adjust for the movement of the satellite so that the receiver’s calculations for location can stay accurate. The great thing about GPS is how quickly it all works!  These waves move at unbelievable speeds, allowing accurate updates to be obtained as quickly as snapping a finger.  So if you are in the business of wanting to be accurate and quick in your updates to customers and wanting to keep them happy, then start utilizing the readily available GPS and improve your business as quickly as you are located!...
3PLBest PracticesCarrier ManagerintermodalSales

By Joel Carey, CTB While in recent months much of the news in the transportation industry has been a clamor of who’s crafting which latest future-rattling technology applications, some shippers may find great benefit from a step back for fresh consideration of the original transportation game-changer. Intermodal rail transportation has evolved in the past several years from a perhaps well-deserved reputation for unreliable service, poor communication, and tracking, and damaged freight, to a level of operational efficiency and customer service that rivals most over-the-road trucking options - often at substantial savings. Though OTR dry van truckload has been firmly a shippers market for some time, upcoming industry changes such as the electronic logging device requirements that take effect at the end of the year are likely to put pressure on OTR capacity and begin to nudge truckload rates back uphill. Many shippers are already testing the waters of Intermodal as this potential TL capacity crunch approaches – some entirely new to the idea, and others who are taking a second look. Shippers with relatively durable palletized freight that can be limited to a gross weight of 42,500 pounds and loaded at facilities in reasonable proximity to a primary rail ramp can readily garner savings of 10-30% over TL rates in certain lanes. Lanes from the Midwest to the West Coast and the Midwest to the Northeast are prime examples where current Intermodal rates are well below OTR. To enhance shipper’s options that might encourage the shift to Intermodal, the major railroads have recently opened new service in lanes from the lower Midwest to the Northeast and Florida which also offer competitive pricing. With the exception of ensuring thorough bracing and an extra day in transit on most routes, a shipper might otherwise not even notice these days that their freight is riding the rails rather than the road.  The Class I railroads have made excellent use of Internet technology to provide effective communication of shipping orders and appointments, as well as 24-hour position tracking and notifications.  The Intermodal specialists at AM Transport closely monitor all shipments and can provide any level of detailed reporting that our customers might request. Spot market Intermodal capacity is readily available for next-day pickup or beyond, so why not do your shipping budget a favor and consider a solid and cost-effective alternative?  AM Transport is ready and able to discuss the benefits and options that Intermodal might present to your shipping operations....
Best PracticesHealthTransportation

Functioning in a Work-First Culture Erin Reid coined the term "cult of busy" to describe the way our workforce has become: jobs come first in the hierarchy and constant availability is the expectation. With the increased ability to always have your work at your fingertips (e.g. email linked to your phone), the assumption of 24/7 accessibility has only intensified - and continues to do so. Working all the time should lead to more productivity, right? Wrong-o. Harvard Business Review and The New York Times have shared studies and stories of the problems that arise from constant work - employees crying and passing out from exhaustion, high turnover rates, and lack of diversity among your workforce being among them. So how are we coping with this ever-growing demand for the 24/7 workplace? Quite disfunctionally, as discussed by Huff Post writer Emily Peck. She talks about three ways we are "adapting" to the work-all-the-time demand. 1. Accepting Just give in and work all the time. Give up the deep relationships, community engagement, and physical well-being for the job. Just keep plugging away until you reach the burnout stage. 2. Passing The "fake it" strategy for coping. Technology makes it easy to be working wherever you are...
Best PracticesSelf ImprovementTransportation

Find Your Gorilla Sir David Attenborough (who just turned 90 years old this week - happy birthday!) is a British naturalist and documentary maker. He has captivated children worldwide with his television programs and documentaries on the wonders of nature. His career has not only been a very public one, but it is one that he has filled with his own passions. And it is a career that has inspired many children around the world to follow in his footsteps. Richard George, contributor to LinkedIn Pulse, identifies three lessons that we can all take from Sir David's incredible career. All of us may not be interested in travelling the world, studying animals and plants, and sharing those findings with the rest of mankind, but we can certainly find our own dream roles full of interest and passion - we can find our own gorillas. Three lessons from Sir David's career: 1. Find your passion, or something that drives you Figure out what it is that gets you out of bed in the morning. You may not currently be working in your dream role, so find aspects of your job that allow you to expand on your other interests. Sign up for a more creativity-based project, take classes in a skill that you have not quite developed yet, or work with people that can teach you elements of your job that you have never explored. 2. Take risks Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. As Richard points out, "the greatest and most wonderful things we do often happen as a result of putting ourselves at risk and grasping the things that scare us." Do more things that you would normally shy away from, such as public speaking or leading your coworkers. Test new ideas. Reach for that promotion. You may not succeed every single time, but you will certainly learn crucial lessons all along the way. 3. Don't worry so much about what clothes you wear While presentation can be important, it is your content and connections with others that matter most. The more distractions we can eliminate, the more barriers to communication we can break down. Find something that works and stick with it. Then move on to bigger and more important decisions. Read Richard's full LinkedIn Pulse article here. And for more about Sir David, check out his biography. Have a topic or suggestion for a blog post you'd like to see? Let us know! Email us - blog@amtransportonline.com...