Industry News

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By Erik Jensen, CTB If you’ve worked in the transportation industry long enough, chances are you have participated in many RFPs (request for proposals).  If not, I’ll do my best to explain one quickly. Typically, a customer sends out a list of lanes and the number of times they expect these lanes to ship during a specified time-period. Our job is to give our customers rates we can hold for this particular time-frame along with committed capacity. Sounds simple enough, right? Not so fast… In an ideal world where the market stays the same and fuel prices never change—which is relatively close to what we’ve seen over the past couple years--this can be accomplished somewhat easily. Rates would stay the same and nothing would ever change. But with events like hurricanes occurring and mandatory ELD Implementation dates approaching, this creates a level of uncertainty. To be quite honest, there might not ever be a more difficult time to participate in an RFP than now. Carriers that have implemented ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices) have stated we can expect a 4-7% reduction in fleet utilization as they learn to operate under the new technology, and some industry experts think that number might be too low. Many carriers are waiting until the last second possible to install these devices. Some of these carriers, for all intents and purposes, would rather just hang up the spikes than install ELDs, while another group of carriers that have actively been “fudging” their logbooks will be put out-of-service for a short period of time and might not have the resources to get back in the game. It’s safe to say that capacity will be harder to come by in 2018 and beyond—which means higher rates. Some industry experts expect rates to increase by at least 10%, and possibly even more. But then again, who really knows?  We can only predict what we’re going to see based on extensive conversations with carriers and our knowledge of the industry. What we can predict with ALMOST 100% certainty is that rates will increase and capacity will decrease, your guess is as good as mine for how long though....
3PLIndustry NewsThird-Party Logistics

Written By: Jesse Baker, CTB The new keyword in business and consumerism is Blockchain.  From the distribution of data to financial transactions, blockchains are being used everywhere.  But what exactly is blockchain?  Let’s take a look at an example that will describe it best. To best describe blockchain, it is easy to say it is just like Google Sheets.  Google sheets is a spreadsheet that is shared publicly (distributed through different servers, where every server sees each transaction), is decentralized (everyone is allowed to create a transaction and set rules), secure, trusted, and automated.  What makes this so nice is that the flow of data is happening all at once, while preventing duplication. Here is a great reference for the actual flow of the transaction, from beginning to end As the above example shows, blockchain is vital to the growing ecommerce world because of how secure, automated, and efficient it is.  Be prepared to one day be a part of a blockchain, as it will soon start moving in to every sector and be commonplace....
3PLIndustry NewsThird-Party LogisticsTransportationTrucking

Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been devastated by the relentlessness of Hurricane Harvey. We are inspired by the strength and bravery shown by the first responders, volunteer rescuers, and residents who are helping in the wake of this landmark event. Along with the visible damage left by Hurricane Harvey, supply chain networks have been thrown out of wack and the storm is expected to cost the economy tens of billions of dollars. Below are some key points you should be aware of as relief efforts in the area continue. I'm not in Texas, why is my capacity impacted? Houston is one of the biggest cities in the country, and because of that, the supply chain the city serves has the market in a state of flux. Trucks have been unable to get empty and the ability to find a reload has been very challenging and will continue to be so for the immediate future. Shippers will need to understand this and implement certain procedures to make this scenario less problematic in the coming weeks. We encourage shippers to offer longer lead time, give drivers flexibility when it comes to shipping hours and ship dates, be flexible with equipment requirements if at all possible, avoid unrealistic expectations and show empathy for carriers as they battle through the change and devastation left by Harvey. One thing we have seen as a course of action from shippers to continue to serve their respective markets is changing the origin points in the southwestern United States. This will help goods reach those who need it most but will have an immediate impact on several markets. To combat this, storm relief is being sent into the area from FEMA-designated points. FEMA sets the market for transactional transportation in these lanes, but this also impacts the transactional market rates to all destinations from those origins. Along with the issues facing the trucking industry, people across the country will feel the economic impact left by Harvey. Houston is a massive hub for the oil and gas industry, producing half of the petroleum and gas exports in the United States. Harvey has forced 13 refineries to completely or partially shut down, which will lead to nearly two million barrels of lost production. That means higher gas prices around the country. Harvey will also have a major impact in the plastics industry. Houston is responsible for 70 percent of the nation's ethylene, which is the main ingredient in plastics. Experts are saying 37 percent of U.S.-based ethylene production will be disrupted by the storm. This will impact the economy but to a lesser extent than the oil and gas industry. All told, Harvey has and will continue to leave a lasting impact on the trucking industry and the economy as a whole. Time and patience dealing with these changes will be necessary and beneficial to all. Feel free to call the AM Transport team if you would like our feedback in what we're seeing in the market and what we expect to see in the coming weeks. Example Carrier Network Shipping INTO storm impacted area halted OUTBOUND shipping lanes shut down Equipment unavailable to meet customer commitments as it has not been repositioned ...
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A Much-Needed Slap to the Head By Michael McKinney, CTB Often we don’t even know we are sleeping. Let me explain; a few weeks ago, I attended a Small Giants Passport Event in Boston with David Abell. It was a much-needed wake-up call—a metaphorical slap-to-the-head! AMT belongs to a group called Small Giants. Small Giants is a collective of business leaders who heartily believe in making money but “share a passion for values-driven leadership, committing to let purpose and people drive our strategies rather than financials.”[1] Within the Small Giants group, we’ve found other small to mid-size businesses who want to make a difference not only in the lives of their employees, but in the community at large. Passport Events are offerings from Small Giants that bring together 20 values-driven business leaders for intimate conversation and workgroup discussions and in-depth visits to some very successful value-driven businesses. In Boston, we were lucky enough to visit the successful and warm business workplace of Life is Good. I was excited to visit Life is Good as in the McKinney household, we are the proud wearers of Life is Good t-shirts. The highlight of touring Life is Good was the opportunity to hear co-founder Bert Jacobs talk about the company he and his brother John founded in 1994 and to talk to him about what is important to him as a business leader. Theirs is an amazing story about resilience and optimism. In fact, the mission statement of Life is Good is to spread the power of optimism. Bert explains that believing in optimism isn’t an exercise in blindly accepting what is, but rather an empowering belief in open-heartedness and open-mindedness. Being optimistic doesn’t only inspire us to do good, it also feels good. Something I found most interesting about the Life is Good mission is that Bert says that mission—to spread the power of optimism—underlies everything they do in the company. When things have been tough, that mission gives them something to fall back upon. Everything they do must help them spread the power of optimism. What a powerful mission! In support of that mission, Life is Good donates a full 10% of its profits to support children in need due to violence, poverty or illness. The trip to Boston rejuvenated me, and it inspired and continues to inspire me to be more optimistic in my own life. Bert Jacobs gave us an effective method of generating optimism in our daily lives. It’s easy and makes a difference. I’m calling it my new “Get-to Pledge.” Here’s how it works: When my daughter has her fourth ball game in as many days, Instead of saying, “I have to attend another ball game,” with an irritated tone, I say, “I get to see my talented, healthy kid play ball tonight.”  It works across the spectrum—GET TO instead of HAVE TO. Try it a few times, and you will see. And speaking of talented kids—when I arrived home from Boston, I was so excited about the trip that I was discussing it with my daughter Madeline who is a high school freshman and a wonderful artist. We talked about optimism and its power to change lives. Inspired by our conversation, she drew this great picture I will leave you with.   [1] From the Small Giants Website...