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International Shipping Solutions

Many companies manufacture and source materials from outside their borders and overseas. Consequently, controlling costs remains a high priority for firms involved in global trade and international shipping. One critical factor that companies make a strategic decision to monitor more closely concerns logistic management.

Logistics covers all activities associated with the procurement transportation, cross-border shipping logistics services to and from Mexico, overseas freight shipping, transshipment and storage of goods.

Depending on the industry, supply chain logistics can comprise 5 to 50% of the product’s total landed cost.

Issues affecting logistics costs

Companies consistently encounter a variety of challenges that affect logistic costs. Issues may include high fuel prices and port delays, which increase transportation fees. Transportation costs rates high on the list for most enterprises because it makes up as much as 50% of all logistic costs.

Inventory carrying costs also has a significant impact, comprising more than 21% of total costs, according to Hofstra University. Companies incur the following expenses when holding goods in inventory:

  • Capital costs
  • Warehousing
  • Insurance
  • Taxation
  • Depreciation

In addition, management must take under consideration labor costs, which involve the physical handling of products— receiving and processing customer orders, labeling, packaging, and customer service.

Furthermore, complicated international trade laws and security concerns may also lengthen delivery times and increase warehousing expenses.

Three tips for reducing costs

There are multiple approaches firms can take to reduce their supply chain logistic costs.

Here are three of the most common solutions:

1 Accurate cost of overseas sourcing

Companies who have lived in surprise supply chains must work harder to ascertain the true cost of sourcing overseas. This includes accurately calculating freight, to the, brokerage, and inventory carrying costs. Management must also factor in other such as the cost of flying personnel overseas. Gaining an accurate understanding of the true total landed cost and total impact to the operations can help you make better comparisons when it comes to domestic procurement. Sourcing from the United States to a Canadian plant, distribution center, or customer may provide a more cost-effective alternative than sourcing from Asia.

2 Cost-efficient compliance processing

Transportation companies understand the value of implementing software solutions that automates the trade compliance process. These applications speed up the cycle time for many tasks routinely performed manually, such as document preparation and evaluation.  Software can also eliminate common mistakes associated with manual responsibilities, improve internal controls, and enhance overall operational efficiency. Companies that automate compliance processes experience fewer delays at border crossings, which is improve on-time delivery. Firms can also maintain adequate inventory levels, increase customer satisfaction, and avoid costly penalties and fines.

3 Minimize express shipping costs

When some companies encounter a supply-chain issue that causes a delay, many will panic and approve an express global cargo shipping solution—the highest cost service level—for the product order. Control expedited overseas freight shipping costs or other international shipping expense by calculating the amount of goods the customer requires immediately and ship only that amount at the express service level. Transport the balance of the goods using the standard service level and lower cost.

Third-party logistics management

Increasingly, smart businesses make the strategic decision to combat high logistics costs by partnering with global logistics experts. These firms function as consultant, brokers, and logistics managers. Companies that require Canada to Mexico transportation, international shipping, or other logistics services can take advantage of the buying power of third-party logistics firms. 3PL Links can provide warehousing and distribution services & solutions throughout Canada, US and Mexico.

They can not only reduce their international sea shipping costs and other global cargo shipping expenses, but benefit from a single point of contact for their logistics needs.

3PL Links can take care of your cross-border shipping requirements to and from Mexico. Our Logistics division can cover all activities that are related to the procurement of transportation from Canada to Mexico or the other way around.  We can navigate the complexities of the various free trade agreements and time consuming paperwork and administrative processes that involve shipping freight to or from Mexico. Whether you’re shipping a full truckload, or  require LTL shipping, we can make sure that your freight is delivered to its destination safely and securely.

4 Ways Effective 3PL Can Help Pharma Comply With Health Canada Regulations

When it comes to logistics in the pharmaceutical industry, the two biggest factors are security and traceability. Drug manufacturers have to deal with the risk of counterfeiting, contamination and shortages during distribution, which may compromise the quality of the products.

How Working With 3PLs Can Make Compliance Easier For Drug Manufacturers In Canada

As such, it is important that manufacturers in Canada work with a logistics service provider that upholds the same standards for regulatory compliance as them. To become a reliable and effective partner in the healthcare supply chain, 3PL has been employing a number of strategies that help pharma comply with Health Canada regulations.

Here are some reasons to work with third party logistics (3PL) providers:

  1. Best-in-class technology for products that require special handling – refrigeration

    Third party logistics providers have different shipping specialties. Those that focus on medications naturally have the scale to invest in cutting edge, specialised equipment to ensure that your medical products are compliantly handled from the loading to unloading.

    Wholesalers looking to handle the shipping by themselves would have to invest in validated coolers and similar materials that increase the cost of shipment. 3PL providers, on the other hand, have dedicated, refrigerated trucks that ensure consistency in the handling of the cooled products without incurring extra costs beyond normal cooling operations.

    Furthermore, multiple customers can take advantage of the refrigerated truck technology in a single trip to enjoy further savings through economies of scale.

  2. Commitment to continual technology and infrastructure investments

    Smaller manufacturers typically find that outsourcing their 3PL needs is much easier and cost effective than setting up the necessary infrastructure, facilities, and processes; hiring staff to run the operations; and managing relationships with customers. However, mid-sized and larger manufacturers that have the resources to handle the different aspects of the supply chain may prefer to handle logistics in-house. Such a move is actually logical if they have the scale that increases ROI.

    But these manufacturers may still find that outsourcing to 3PL is not such a bad idea if they look beyond recouping their initial investment. For instance, as the manufacturer introduces new products, they will be required to also increase manpower, improve capacity and boost the capabilities of the resources, which may involve investing in refrigeration and other expensive special handling procedures.

    The continual investment process will also include adjusting infrastructure and technology as need be to comply with the constantly evolving support pedigree, track-and-trace, and government product integrity requirements.

    3PLs that specialise in health products are committed to the continual investments needed to remain compliant with the evolving Health Canada regulations, including licensing requirements and regulations.

    Generally, 3PLs handling medical products have the necessary plans, resources, and processes in place to ensure that they can adhere to the constantly evolving product serialisation and pedigree regulations. This includes having quality IT infrastructure to not only ensure compliance with guidelines on electronics records, but also to quickly and efficiently provide the relevant bodies with information that validates the vendor’s chain of custody and proper product handling throughout the supply chain.

  3. Appropriate regulatory expertise

    When looking to commercialise a product, poor navigation of the regulatory arena can hinder its success. Fortunately, 3PLs in the health sector are familiar with regulatory issues, and are adequately equipped with industry know-how and expertise to evade the particularly troublesome ones.

    It is important to work with a 3PL provider who has a proven cGMP expertise; solid and long-term relationships with the regulatory agencies; and the appropriate equipment and systems to continually validate and report that your product has been compliantly handled through the entire chain of custody.

    When you work with a third party logistics provider, compared to working alone, you get instant access to their resources, relationships and expertise in healthcare logistics, which you can leverage to protect yourself from having to handle all the intimidating particulars of product-specific licensing necessities.

  4. Compliant product disposal/destruction and other headaches

    As mentioned in other points above, good 3PL providers in the health industry are familiar with just about every possible scenario you may encounter in the supply chain.

    The providers will be available to guide you during overwhelming times, such as product recalls or peak ordering periods. They can quickly scale up the workforce to safely and efficiently handle new tasks, and even take care of otherwise daunting tasks such ensuring compliant product destruction or disposal.

Final note

Many countries seem to be taking the multi-client distribution facility approach, where pharmaceutical companies consolidate their distribution. Besides the convenience and cost savings that this model offers, it also suggests that the industry is putting more trust in the ability of third party logistics providers to handle inventory distribution, regulatory compliance and other aspects of the supply chain.

At a time when drug manufacturers are looking for ways to access new markets while remaining nimble, cost efficient and also compliant to the changing industry guidelines, it seems like the most rational solution is to create partnerships with highly knowledgeable and connected 3PLs, and leverage the already established networks.

Why cost effective and dependable delivery is essential to the food industry

The perils of food and dairy logistics are rather obvious for those in the industry: Mess up any one factor and a truckload of perishables may easily become a huge pile of waste. Depending on the size of your business, any challenges arising in the delivery of produce between you and your suppliers may mean huge losses, customer dissatisfaction and problems with customer retention and brand loyalty.

Delivery In The Food industry - Essentials

Choosing the right third party logistics company can help you avoid common pitfalls, while keeping your operations compliant with the necessary government regulations and cutting your production costs. Here is how dependable and cost effective delivery can help your business:

  1. Reduced risk of spoilage, contamination, and recalls

    For temperature-sensitive items, a variation in temperature by just a few degrees could mean a trip to the landfill instead of your business. Fish begins to rot; milk turns sour; lettuce freezes; and candy melts. In some cases, the products may become contaminated with no outward signs, leading to a product recall.

    A dependable 3PL provider knows the right technology is needed to ensure that your products remain in the ideal environment throughout the supply chain. This means working with regional temperature controlled distribution centres – and close monitoring at the warehouse, dock, and during transport to ensure the products maintain optimal quality from start to finish. If the temperature slips below or above the optimum range, the system alerts the experts for the problem to be corrected.

  2. Increase your margins

    Marketing food products is considered a low-margin business. In order to maximise your profits, you should minimise production costs. To make your operation lean and efficient, you need to get rid of sub-optimised delivery routes, unproductive employees, obsolete refrigeration systems that draw excess power and other measures.

    To optimise the supply chain,you need a 3PL provider who is capable of providing smooth, efficient warehouse and transportation efforts at the minimal cost. This can be achieved through:

    • Multi-vendor consolidation: Where multiple businesses handing the same produce combine freight to reduce cost of retail delivery
    • Integrated storage and delivery: Where the logistics provider combines warehousing services with their own delivery fleet to save time and cost of coordinating with external carriers
    • Intermodal service: Where the provider offers multiple freight options for optimal efficiency – sea, rail and road, for example.
  3. Better management of product shelf-life

    The nature of food products is such that they have an expiry date, and every business seeks to maximise the shelf life of each food item. But there are many different ways to achieve this including expiration date, code date, best used by date, LIFO, FIFO, FEFO, etc. If you get it wrong, you will be wasting space in the warehouse with products that your customers won’t be interested in.

    Instead, you can work with a 3PL provider that uses a sophisticated warehouse management system that supports a wide array of picking methodologies. This system should be capable of producing images of the remaining shelf life of products in your warehouse, sends alerts for products that are within a predetermined number of days of its expiration date, or list products in order of the oldest code dates so they can be removed first.

    Ideally, your products should be moving fast enough, but this is a good precautionary measure.

Basically, working with a 3PL provider who is experienced with food-grade products will help eliminate delays, wastages, and losses that could arise due to simple mistakes in the supply chain.

How The Winter Holidays Will Impact Warehouses And The Supply Chain

While many retailers are better versed in meeting in-store customer needs, experts argue that they have many challenges when it comes to handling digital operations, more specifically with regards to warehousing. This trend is particularly troublesome during the winter holidays season when the company’s distribution centre is handling 2 to 5 times the typical workload.

Tips To Improve Inventory Management For The Peak Holiday Season

Experts say that most businesses make more than 20 per cent of their annual revenue during this season – but when service failures occur during peak shipping days, it poses a major supply-chain risk that not only translates to the delayed release of customer shipments, but also poor inventory management resulting in stockouts.

According to a recent survey, 75 per cent of in store consumers experienced stock-outs last year, and 38 per cent claiming that it was a common occurrence. The incidence of stock-outs for online shoppers was slightly less at 63 per cent, but resulted in the harshest consequences. While 58 per cent of brick-and-mortar store incidents translated to lost sales with customers skipping the purchase or taking their business elsewhere, 65 per cent of online shopping stock-out incidents resulted in the shopper pressing the delete button and completely abandoning the sale

Effect on the retailer

Stock-outs are evidently damaging to current sales, but the impact can be more even more devastating to your brand and future business activities. Forcing your customers to seek a product – that you have run off – from a competitor diminishes their loyalty.

In fact, the survey mentioned above found that 38 per cent of consumers blame the retailer for stock-outs, irrespective of the cause. Retailers, in turn, express their frustration to the manufacturers and suppliers, creating more pressure and strained relationships for performance.

The problem is further compounded by omni-channel consumers who buy online and return the item in-store, which means that retailers should have products both at the shop and in the warehouse, in the right quantities and at the right time.

How retailers can address supply chain challenges

To address these challenges, retailers are trying creative distribution strategies that not only improve forecasts within conventional channel silos, but also facilitate inventory movement across multiple shopping channels.

For instance, some retailers have opted to fill their online orders directly from their store, while others are filling their in-store and ecommerce replenishment orders from a single distribution centre.

Depending on the distance between your store and warehouse, retailers may need the services of a third party logistics provider. When your inventory is moving fast during the holidays, these tips will help ensure good relations with your suppliers, logistics provider, and customers:

  1. Good forecasting accuracy

    One way to ensure that orders are always available in the right quantities and at the right time is by making realistic projections for order volumes and calls by hour, day, week or month in advance to give the provider enough time to plan accordingly.

    You will need historical data from last year, as well as any changes in the current year that are likely to impact your sales or orders, to be able to make accurate estimates of the increase in number of calls or sales for the season. This information will allow your third party logistics vendor to prepare appropriately for different days or peak hours during the holiday season.

  2. Keeping the 3PL Vendor up to date on purchase orders

    As a retailer, you should be in constant communication with your suppliers and third party logistics vendors, informing them of any changes on purchase orders in a timely manner.

    For instance, informing them of advance shipping notices (ASNs) as soon as they arise, or any other changes in regard to the expected receipt items, quantities, or dates on purchase orders, will give the 3PL provider enough time to prepare adequately and deliver the item within your service level standard, as your customers have become accustomed.

  3. Allowing room for flexibility with your carrier

    While you may be able to accurately project sales at different times of the year using data from previous years, you cannot always plan adequately for impulse purchases during the end of year festivities.

    More often than not, your logistics service provider will be required to make last-minute, just-in-time deliveries to your brick-and-mortar store to avoid stock-outs of a certain product. To accommodate such unforeseen incidents, you should develop a network with your 3PL vendor that allows for flexibility and can adequately handle last-minute orders.

    For such unplanned deliveries, it’s important to establish clear guidelines up front, especially regarding extra charges for fulfilment of the delivery.

Final note

With these tips, you can improve your inventory management for the peak holiday season, effectively increasing your sales and customer loyalty. However, to optimise your omnichannel strategy year round, it is critical to invest in software that can help you to better manage data and workflow in the supply chain by providing specific data for customer preference, inventory visibility, and logistics optimisation.

Will The Sharing Economy Change The Face Of The 3PL Industry?

The remarkable growth of some of the biggest players in the sharing economy, most notably Uber and Airbnb – which have a collective worth of over $50 billion – is expected to disrupt different industries to some extent, in this case the taxi and hospitality industry, respectively.

Impact Of The Sharing Economy On The Supply Chain

Unlike traditional businesses that take years to create networks of both intellectual and physical assets on a national or international level, business that use the sharing economy strategy are built on consumer resources.

The fact that businesses like Uber don’t own any of the assets means that they don’t have to allocate their returns to asset acquisition, maintenance, or disposal, which makes scaling so much easier. Just to emphasise this point, Uber is currently available in 55 plus countries, and has recently ventured into business delivery fulfilment and food delivery – all in 7 years.

There are some new ventures that are trying to apply the sharing economy concept in the warehousing and logistics landscape. Flexe, for instance, is using the Airbnb model of renting extra space for short-term storage/warehousing purposes.

Disruption or Destruction

For product shipping, established businesses in the industry like FedEx and UPS build large and extensive networks to enjoy economies of scale and growth. This is a $1.25 trillion industry, which means that the logistics sector contributes 10 per cent of the nation’s GDP. This industry is large enough to accommodate new entrants in the space – whether they are multi-million or even billion dollar businesses, but the big players will still feel an impact.

One company applying the economy sharing model in logistics is Flexport. This company operates as a freight forwarder, navigating the assortment of shipping options that a client faces when shipping merchandise across borders.

In the conventional setting, the trader would have to find reliable shippers, sign multiple contracts, and go through a pile of paper documents. Flexport’s model seeks to simplify this process, so that shipping merchandise oversea is as simple as hiring an Uber and paying just what you owe.

The company offers a platform where different carriers display their services, allowing traders to manipulate different variables from the comfort of their home or office until they find a suitable arrangement. Shipping businesses also benefit from listing on the platform. They can respond faster to demand by easily changing rates and timelines to fill out lighter schedules, allowing them to convert excess resources into revenue.

Flexport has reported remarkable growth in its first two years, with the founder claiming 25 per cent revenue growth per month, as more customers learn and appreciate the transparency and simplicity offered by the platform.

At the local level, where customers don’t have to rely on third party logistics services when they need to haul something, Uber, Flexport, or Flexe can have a dramatic impact on the way business is done. Third party logistics businesses will have no option but to get listed on these services and compete for customers.

On the other hand, the appeal of third party logistics is in efficiency, reputation, and credibility, which will take time to be established with a Flexport business model. Timing is a critical factor in logistics especially at the local and regional level, where third party logistics excels.

The most likely scenario is startups like Flexport becoming platforms for conventional shippers and third party logistics companies to plan routes and combine trips for optimisation, essentially replacing the current logistics software systems.

How To Improve Workflow At A Construction Site

When it comes to the construction industry, the workflow factor is important because it will impact your bottom line for better or for worse.

Improve Construction Site Workflow

You need the sort of tools and strategies that will help you to optimize construction site workflow so that you can focus on what you do best without having to be concerned with issues relating to materials logistics. The right third-party solution will ensure that your materials are delivered on schedule, are stored in a secure location off-site until you need them and are safely delivered to your site when you require them. Whether you’re working on a hotel project south of the border or a recreational center across town, workflow matters.

So read on to learn more about how to improve construction site workflow. You might be surprised at how much benefit you can get by simply making a few prudent changes to how you oversee your project.

Understand project risk/complexity issue

Keeping on top of workflow at a construction site can become a monumental task if you have to manage one project team, let alone multiple project teams – with each team accountable to stakeholders. While it is technically feasible for different teams to do their own workflow management at the construction site, such a strategy is prone to breakdown. The reason for this is that any mistakes made when different teams do their own workflow management on the same site could result in serious mistakes that lead to anything from cost overruns to increased work to compensate for lost time. So, if there are multiple teams or even if there’s only one one, it’s important that they all work together to ensure that everyone adheres to an agreed upon workflow process. When all parties understand the project scope and complexity, they can complete the project on time and on budget.

Single platform

One way to keep everyone at the construction site on the same page is to use a single platform that can automate management of the project workflow. Using a centralized platform will ensure that all parties know exactly what they are responsible for and will help to keep all parties on track.

Garbage and debris removal and disposal

Nothing clutters a construction site and impedes the work process as much as debris and garbage that is left on the site. In order to avoid this scenario, companies can either hire a third party to take care of the removal and disposal of garbage and debris or do it themselves in a responsible manner. This will definitely improve workflow at a construction site.

Storage / warehousing solution

Garbage and debris can clutter a site – and so can equipment and materials needed for the project. You can improve workflow at your construction site by reaching out to a third party service provider that offers storage and warehousing solutions. With such options, you’ll be able to to keep your equipment and materials in a safe location when they’re not needed. For instance, you might not require certain equipment or materials during the early stages of construction projects, so having somewhere to keep them securely stored until they’re needed will provide precious space and facilitate the orderly accomplishment of the project.

On-site delivery

When it comes to getting projects done on time, you want equipment and materials delivered to the construction site on time. You can improve workflow at your construction site, therefore, by ensuring that products you need are available as needed. This will save you precious time and allow you to dedicate your energy to completing the construction project on time. Signing up with the right third party will ensure that there are no delays attributable to late deliveries.

Mobile

With the widespread use of mobile devices such as smartphone and tablets, you can benefit by incorporating this sort of technology into your plans. For instance, project managers could use their mobile devices to find information relating to, among other things, contract information, project milestones and project updates. Essentially, any member of your team could use mobile devices logged into the cloud to more efficiently carry out their respective duties.

You can definitely improve workflow at construction sites with the above tips. Anything that impedes workflow can delay projects, which in turn can lead to unexpected additional expenses that you might have to shoulder. There are many things that can go wrong if you don’t plan accordingly – that’s why third-party logistics is crucial to construction site workflow. You’ll be able to focus on your core competencies while the third party helps to ensure nothing slips through the cracks. So put the aforementioned recommendations into practice, and you’ll be able to improve workflow and complete your construction projects.

Reducing Your Company’s International Shipping Costs

If your business needs to ship internationally, you no doubt realize that costs can add up over the course of weeks, months and years.

Tips To Reduce International Shipping Costs

Since international shipping is a necessity, however, you can’t merely neglect this aspect of your business to save money. Instead, you need to come up with ways to minimize costs. With that said, here are 5 ways your company can reduce international shipping costs.

Choose the best transportation option

Carefully selecting the best mode of transportation can help you to control international shipping costs. Of course, the products and services you need to transport will factor into whether or not one mode of transportation might be more suitable than another. However, there will be circumstances in which multimodal transport can be used. One rule of thumb is that shipping by plane tends to cost more than it does to by ship by other forms of transport. So be sure to familiarize yourself with the international shipping rates for various transportation modes so that you can choose the best one for you, and reduce the hit to your budget at the same time.

Supply chain management

You need to have a thorough grasp of all levels of your transportation chain – from the supplier to the customer – in order to find any inefficiencies and to cut out any unnecessary costs. Another benefit of going this route is that you’ll be better positioned to quickly address problems, which will save you precious time and financial resources going forward. Again, keep your eyes on your supply chain and you’ll find it easier to reduce international shipping costs.

Go hybrid

When it comes to selecting which mode of transportation to use when shipping internationally, you don’t have to settle for only one. You can, in fact, go for a hybrid solution. What this means is that you can select a mix of transportation modes to customize an ideal shipping solution. Choosing combinations of ocean, air and ground can potentially get your products where they need to be while saving you money in the process.

Ensure to insure

Insurance costs money, but it could cost more if you don’t insure. For instance, things can happen during international transport – such lost or damaged products. Get an insurance policy that is appropriate for the inventory you need to ship, and be sure to find out exactly what the insurance covers so that there are no surprises should you have to file a claim.

Logistics matter

If you go with a logistics service provided by a third party, you can obtain critical information on shipping patterns as well as shipping procedures. With this information, you can substantially lessen your costs when it comes to international shipping.

As you can see, there are many ways you can reduce international shipping costs. There’s no reason to pay more than you really have to for international shipping, so consider these 5 tips and start saving serious money today.

10 Best Ways To Reduce Supply Chain Costs

One of the best ways to improve your corporate bottom line is to get supply chain costs under control, and fortunately there are some pretty straightforward things you can do to achieve this objective.

Supply Chain Cost Reductions

Before you get into a cost-cutting frame of mind, however, you need to understand where to focus because making the right cuts in the right areas will ultimately lead to the greatest returns.

What follows is a rundown of the 10 best ways to reduce supply chain costs — and to increase your profits.

  1. Make Better Use of Space

    Making the most of the space you have will save you money at the end of the day. As you no doubt already know, storing inventory and supplies in your warehouse comes at a cost. Assess whether or not you’re making the most of the space you have. You just might discover that you could save some money by finding a space that’s more in line with your actual needs.

  2. Automate

    Automating processes in your warehouse isn’t part of some fad or shady trend. It can actually help you to accomplish your goal of reducing supply chain costs. Have a professional come in to do an assessment of your operations so that you can get suggestions as to how you can automate your operations to make things more efficient.

  3. Streamline Ordering Process

    You need to make your ordering process as efficient as possible. This means at least a couple of things. Use a single software package for completing requisitions or else you might encounter situations where employees using different applications end up ordering too much of specific products or inventory supplies. Another thing to keep in mind is that you need to implement an approval process so that nothing gets ordered without the consent of designated officials.

  4. Monitor Customer Demand

    One of the ways you can reduce supply chain costs is by regularly looking at client demand patterns to see whether or not something needs to be tweaked. You may find that patterns change from month to month or from season to season, and you can use this information to make more accurate supply ordering decisions.

  5. Package Well

    The better you package your products, the less likely your products will be damaged when shipped. Ensure that whoever is responsible for this function properly packages and stacks your product so as to avoid, or at least minimize the chances of, damage.

  6. Consider the Links

    Assess all links in your supply chain. In order to get a firm grasp of what you need to overhaul or to tweak, you must come up with answers for questions such as the following:

    • What can possibly be eliminated?
    • What can possibly be improved?
    • What can possibly be changed to enhance overall efficiency?
  7. JIT Inventory Management

    Consider the benefits of implementing a JIT (Just In Time) inventory management system so that you can order and receive inventory on an as needed basis. This will reduce your inventory carrying fees, safeguard against write-downs attributable to dips in demand and get rid of overhead stemming from excess inventory.

  8. Outsourcing

    Outsourcing is one option you can consider if you want to reduce supply chain costs. Of course, you’ll need to conduct proper due diligence to ascertain whether or not service providers under consideration have the ability to provide enough of a productivity and efficiency benefit to justify your out-of-pocket expenses for such services. Under the right set of circumstances, an outsourcing arrangement can lead to substantial savings and a property functioning supply chain.

  9. Measure Performance

    Even the best strategy will fall flat if you don’t have a way to measure performance. Put another way, you’ll have a hard time determining how much, if any, money you’re saving if you don’t have a sense of how much money you’re spending in the first place. Select critical performance indicators and gauge how you’re doing compared to your goals.

  10. House in Order

    You must ensure that your in-house operations are working properly and that there are no problems internally that could adversely impact your supply chain. So be sure to carefully assess your internal operations in order to determine whether or not changes need to be made to optimize the performance and efficiency of your supply chain.

It is definitely possible to reduce supply chain costs, and the 10 suggestions above will get you started down that path. You could very well be a few tweaks away from running an efficient supply chain, and you owe it to yourself to critically and objectively assess your situation to determine what, if any, changes need to be implemented.

5 Tips For Improving Your Warehouse And Distribution Process

Improving your warehouse and distribution process isn’t necessarily as easy as it might sound since any course of action needs to take into account variables such as your products, staffing levels, scheduling and third-party vendors.

Improving Warehouse And Distribution

What this means is that your first order of business is to figure out the things that impact your warehouse and distribution process in the first place so that you can then determine how to go about making the process more efficient, productive and profitable.

What follows are 5 tips for improving your warehouse and distribution process. The first tip is definitely a game changer.

  1. Automation

    In this digital age, you simply can’t ignore the power of warehouse automation or warehouse management software. For instance, at 3PL, we offer warehousing and distribution services throughout North America, and all warehouses are fully equipped with automated transportation management systems that can help you track and trace shipments online.

  2. Mind Your Metrics

    In order to improve your warehousing and distribution process, you have to understand the metrics you will be using to figure out productivity, what baseline you’re beginning with and what your target is. A word of caution: When you set about figuring out which metrics to track, don’t go overboard. Choose a handful of metrics to track and follow them religiously rather than choosing a whole bunch and failing to keep track of all of them adequately.

  3. Get Employees Involved

    Before making any drastic moves, you should talk to employees working in the warehouse to solicit their ideas and to get their feedback. Since these workers have their boots on the ground, so to speak, they may provide suggestions that might not have occurred to you otherwise. Moreover, employees are more likely to buy into the program when the solution incorporates some of their own ideas.

  4. Set Vendor Policies

    You can get your warehouse and distribution process working like clockwork if you put together vendor compliance rules that cover, among other things, quality, packaging, purchasing terms and delivery time guarantees. When you have such a policy in place, you’ll be able to gauge how well your vendors are performing in an objective way.

  5. Review and revise

    One thing you absolutely must do is assess your strategy periodically via post mortems to see what works, what needs to be tweaked and what must be overhauled. If you continue to do this, you will reduce the risk of complacency.

It definitely is possible to improve your warehouse and distribution process, and the 5 tips above will get you on the right path.

10 Tips For Reducing Freight Costs

Freight costs account for a large portion of your company’s expenses and with rising fees, you’re likely looking for cost-saving options. As your company grows, your operations will evolve alongside it and there are many resources and tips you can use to reduce freight costs and save you time. Whether you’re shipping internationally, nationally or both, it’s important to do your research and find the best options for you and your company. Ultimately, you’ll be able to save time and money by implementing some simple changes.

Reduce Freight Costs

Check out the 10 tips below for reducing freight costs:

  1. Choose the best mode of transportation

    This will depend on the type of goods and services you’re transportation and the travel distance, however it’s important to know which will be most cost-effective. Ocean shipping is often cheaper than air, especially if you’re shipping internationally. If you’re shipping closer to home, rail is typically less costly than trucking. Knowing transportation costs will help you to understand the best choice for your company based on budget and deadline.

  2. Try hybrid transportation

    You can use a mix of transportation if necessary. Combinations of air, ocean and ground transportation can prove to reduce transportation time all while reducing cost. You can have the best of both worlds. If air shipping is proving to be too costly for you, and you’re worried about the time it will take for inventory to ship via the ocean, a hybrid transportation plan might be the best choice for you.

  3. Consolidation

    Consolidating goods or services from multiple suppliers in one country might cost you a bit more time in transportation; however, it might be worth it from a costs standpoint. Many smaller shipments, or less container load shipments (LCL), can also be consolidated into larger shipments, or full container loads (FCL) to provide additional cost savings.

  4. Supply chain visibility

    Understanding each level of your transportation chain from supplier to customer will help you to better pinpoint inefficiencies and cut excess costs. As well, you’ll be able to react more quickly to problems as they are occurring, saving you time and money in the future.

  5. Be sure to understand international outsourcing costs

    If you’re shipping goods or services from overseas, you could end up facing a variety of costs including duties, brokerage, carrying costs and more. What might have started out as the least expensive option is now rising your freight costs. Buying inventory closer to home might be a more cost-effective solution for your company.

  6. Insurance

    You’ve spent time cutting back on freight costs. However, your efforts might be wasted if your inventory isn’t insured. Ensure your supplier’s insurance is up to date or that you have obtained the proper insurance to fit your inventory. As well, it’s important to note what your insurance covers so that you don’t spend extra money on shipping premium goods and services.

  7. Automate where possible

    Automating certain processes and procedures will prevent errors, reduce paperwork and shorten or prevent delays, such as those at border crossings. Doing so will save you money and time, as well as mitigating risks associated with damaged inventory or invoice errors. Performing necessary tasks manually can take up your time and resources.

  8. Understand express shipping costs

    If you experience late shipments due to an issue or error, your company will likely ship that inventory express or priority. You can save money by determining which inventory are needed immediately and send the rest using a standard shipment method, as opposed to shipping all items as high-cost express or priority.

  9. Tariffs

    If you’re shipping internationally, being knowledgeable about tariffs can help to save you money. For example, non-tariff trade barriers are set in place to reduce sweat shop labour, and crossing these barriers can cost you. However, you can also manufacture products that fall under classification duty rates and are eligible for special trade programs.

  10. Logistics

    Using a third party logistics service can insure you shipping procedures and shipping patterns are fully analyzed and you receive ultimate supply chain management. This can significantly reduce costs and save you time. As well, the insights you’ll achieve from using a third party logistics service will help you to better plan the economic future of your company.

Freight costs are a significant part of your company’s expenses, so it’s important to keep the above 10 tips in mind to maintain your competitive edge in your market. Choosing the best mode of transportation for your company and inventory, consolidating multiple suppliers or loads, automating certain procedures, improving supply chain visibility, researching outsourcing costs and tariffs and adding proper insurance are all ways to help you save money. However, having a third party logistics company can help you to better grasp the day to day procedures of your company’s freight and ensure you can get focus on doing your job.

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