Commentary: Rail freight real-time, all-the-time inventory visibility

Which of the big seven U.S. railroads could make 2021 the year of railroad advanced cargo visibility — thus introducing a real game changer for railroad cargo shippers?

Something more than just a cheap, small, smart communicating sensor indicating whether the rail car doors are closed.

Shippers need something more robust. And rail shippers want it now, not in 10 to 12 years.

Rail customers want to have usable logistics intelligence in an open-architecture API integrator software application — a service that delivers carload freight location and condition information into a meaningful, easy-to-understand status report message. They do not care about the device used.

As identified in previous columns, experts like Oliver Wyman show that each mode of freight transport has a small black dot area to directly help their customers’ supply chain with visibility.

Freight customers want that data fed right into the shippers’ digital supply chain data bases.

Unfortunately, providing that kind of cargo location and status messaging real time is still a head scratcher for railroads.

Here is why that is a problem: The truckers are already doing this for customers.

Published logistics reports calculate that improved visibility might reduce shippers’ total supply chain costs by 7% to 10%.

The bottom line is that rail could leap forward with this kind of on-time management of shipper goods if it were bolder and faster at innovating.

For the full story, please click HERE

Source: Freight Waves

What does shipper of choice mean in 2021?

How does a shipper ensure a carrier is available when needed? Over the last couple of years, a term has arisen to paint a picture of a company that checks the boxes of an organization that a carrier wants to work with: shipper of choice.

In 2019, we asked a panel of experts what went into becoming a shipper of choice. They noted that carriers covet considerations like speed, profitability and digital connectivity.

A lot has changed since 2019 — with shippers and carriers alike dealing with dramatic demand swings during the pandemic and 2020 — but maybe not when it comes to shipper of choice.

“Shippers can’t necessarily do anything about the demand patterns that have come from the pandemic,” said Angela Acocella, a research assistant and PhD candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Transportation and Logistics, whose recent research has looked at reciprocity between carriers and shippers.

What the pandemic did was underscore how difficult the process of freight procurement can be, Acocella said.

For the full story, please click HERE

Source: Supply Chain Dive

4 elements of the next phase of last-mile delivery

In 2021, last-mile innovation isn’t really a technology play, according to the experts. The technologies to move retail delivery forward already exist and are in use. But the near-term evolution of the last mile is going to be about how retailers, carriers and orchestration platforms collaborate to fully weave last-mile services into the retail landscape so they contribute to, rather than distract from, the overall business of retail.

“COVID has clear the decks so that everybody is more focused on: ‘We need to empower our physical location to be much more efficient, to utilize existing assets, people, product and infrastructure,” said Bill Thayer, co-CEO of last-mile technology provider Fillogic, at the National Retail Federation’s Chapter One virtual conference.

Thayer, along with executives from Uber, Danone and Tanger Outlet Centers, discussed four elements driving the future last-mile innovations for retailers.

For the full story, please click HERE

Source: Supply Chain Dive

Port of LA will pay container terminals for efficiency gains

The Port of Los Angeles is willing to pay out $7.5 million to San Pedro Bay container terminals over the next year if they turn trucks faster.

“We see this as an investment in our efficiency,” a port spokesman told American Shipper Wednesday.

The port announced this week that beginning Feb. 1, it will reward container terminals for both improving truck turn times and completing dual transactions.

The port said the incentive program is designed to help move trucks faster and more efficiently through the container terminals. Terminal operators can earn what the port called “financial rewards” by shortening the time it takes to process trucks dropping off and/or picking up cargo. Rewards also would be given for trucks handling both a drop-off and pickup in the same trip.

“These best practices are needed now more than ever to relieve pressure on the supply chain due to the ongoing surge,” Port of LA Executive Director Gene Seroka said in the port’s announcement. “Ports are more fluid when trucks move quickly in and out of the gates and more productive when a truck delivers one container and leaves with another in a single trip.

For the full story, please click HERE

Source: American Shipper

Could a COVID-19 surge lead to shutdowns at L.A. ports? Officials plead for dockworker vaccines

Nearly 700 dockworkers at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have contracted COVID-19 and hundreds more are taking virus-related leaves, raising fears of a severe slowdown in the region’s multibillion-dollar logistics economy.

A growing longshore worker infection rate, which parallels the surge of the virus across California, is exacerbating a massive snarl at the ports due to a pandemic-induced surge in imports of general goods. Port executives, union leaders and elected officials are mounting an urgent campaign to initiate dockworker vaccinations, fearing that a labor shortage could force terminal shutdowns.

“We’ve got more cargo than we do skilled labor,” said Eugene Seroka, executive director of the Los Angeles port. “We are told 1,800 workers are not going on the job due to COVID right now. That can [include] those who are isolating through contact tracing or awaiting test results. Or maybe [those who] fear … going on the job when a lot of people are sick.”

Workplaces across California, from behemoth warehouses to neighborhood businesses, face soaring coronavirus cases while trying to stay afloat amid seesawing restrictions. As the pandemic has worsened, containing the virus has become more difficult, especially among the L.A. region’s essential workers — who include dockworkers as well as grocery store clerks and nurses.

For the full story, please click HERE

Source: LA Times