Batter’s Up: World Series 2014

Whether by plane, train or automobile, baseball fans will be gathering over the next eight days to attend or meet up with others to watch this year’s Fall Classic. As the World Series kicks off, we can’t help but think of the logistics in place that helps make each World Series a fun game experience for fans. That includes transporting the right amount of hotdogs, beer and baseballs (among many other things) to ballparks for each game. 

Check out just how logistics plays a key role in baseball’s best games of the season in our fun World Series themed infographic!

What is your favorite World Series memory? Best match-up?

Upcoming Webinar Preview: Driving ROI through Network Optimization

Streamlining distribution networks and adding efficiency while improving levels of customer service is a major focus for supply chain organizations. How do I manage costs, maximize network efficiency and meet demanding customer service requirements? Companies are increasingly undertaking initiatives in network optimization projects to evaluate strategic alternatives and drive business value.  

However, network optimization has changed significantly over the years – new focuses in optimization strategies include factors such as market capacity, risk mitigation and identifying quick wins at both tactical and strategic levels. There’s also a new importance being placed on working with both upstream and downstream partners to develop a sustainable and efficient network.

In an upcoming webinar hosted by World Trade 100, Transplace’s Ben Cubitt and Prasad Mahajan will share a panel discussion with Alex Pulko from Zep Inc., and discuss some important aspects of network optimization as outlined below.

Strategy: Network optimization used to be infrequent and extremely challenging projects.  Today’s network optimization tools and improved access to network data means that shippers can model complex networks as needed to respond to the more dynamic market conditions currently faced. Today, shippers can spend more time comparing alternatives to determine the optimal network for their business, versus fighting to get poor data through a large, cumbersome, resource-intensive project. 

Key questions to ask include: What is in scope – entire network? Inbound? Outbound? All business units?  All modes?  Who should you involve in your planning and implementation? What questions, especially in relation to new products, investments or acquisitions, should you be asking to frame up your strategy? How might the network change over a reasonable timeframe (3 to 5 years) – new products, major customer changes, changes to manufacturing/co-packers, suppliers, changes in order, lead time? Is there an opportunity to share facilities – model by business unit, model mixing centers, opportunities for internal/external collaboration?

Methodology:  Network optimization projects require discipline and adherence to a well-established project timeline.  At Transplace, we have a proven methodology that we’ve used with more than 50 customers in the last 3 years alone, in addition to proprietary tools such as Llamasoft and Optimize Prime to tailor unique parameters for optimization.

The webinar will share insights on proven network optimization methodology, including tips on “critical success factors” and equally important potential decreases to productivity levels that must be managed. 

Case Study – Zep Inc: In addition to these insights, Alex Pulko, Supply Chain Manager at Zep Inc., will also be joining the webinar panel to discuss the above topics and how his company has applied them to its network optimization process. Alex will be sharing some tremendous outcomes he has seen as a result! 

Best Practices: We will conclude the webinar by advocating best practices to approach and execute network optimization projects based on our experience and changing trends in the industry.

Join us on October 21st, 2014 at 2:00 pm EST for this not-to-be-missed webinar showcasing proven methodology, tools and the latest and greatest best practices in network optimization strategy. To register, click here!  

What are some of the areas of network optimization that you’re interested in hearing about in this webinar?

Transplace Business Units: Opportunity Abounds with Celtic Intermodal

By Steve Golich, President, Celtic International

Steve Golich.jpg

To define it simply, “intermodal” is the combination of more than one mode of transportation, a method of shipping that has been in practice since 1961. However, for many in the transportation industry, intermodal is still a concept that hasn’t been fully explored. 

A few months ago, Transplace partner Celtic International revealed some exciting news – the rollout of Celtic Rail Direct, a collaborative venture with Transplace’s Mexico operations. A door-to-door, seamless double-stack container service that connects all three North American countries; Celtic Rail Direct provides service between U.S., Canadian and Mexican markets in and near Monterrey, San Louis Potosi and Mexico City.

But why all of the excitement about these opportunities in Mexico?  Some are calling cross-border the “last frontier for intermodal” – there’s an element of the “unknown” to intermodal transportation between the US and Mexico, and all of that untapped potential is certainly intriguing.

Things have also changed quite dramatically for intermodal in recent years. For example, the railroad industry continues to spend significant funding toward infrastructure updates, striving for improvements. It’s now faster to get from Chicago to Los Angeles by train than with a single truck driver.

Some of the other benefits of intermodal for shippers include:

  • Elimination of border congestion, delays, inspections – all non-value activities
  • Reliable, predictable and competitive transit times
  • Transportation and fuel savings
  • Cash flow benefit inventory in transit vs. sitting on a truck or border warehouse
  • Elimination of mishandling and damage oftentimes associated with trans-loading
  • Environmental friendliness and sustainability

Celtic is also a priority partner with all of the Class-1 railroads, enabling them to utilize those relationships and offer complete door-to-door tracking and tracing. Many shippers may have experienced the anguish associated with having a load pulled off at a border crossing to await custom’s inspection approval, but with Celtic Rail Direct, there are no stops at the border!  

Opportunity abounds with cross-border intermodal transportation, and since Mexico is the “last frontier” of potential opportunity in North America, we are front and center. 

What key areas or benefits of intermodal service are the most exciting to your organization?

Read more about intermodal opportunities in Mexico here or watch Steve’s in-depth explanation of Celtic’s recent intermodal ventures at the recent Shipper Symposium in this video.

Top 10 Tweets From CSCMP 2014!

If you’re looking for the latest and greatest industry information from leading experts, practitioners, academics and peers, CSCMP's Annual Global Conference is the place to be.  We had such a fantastic time at this year’s conference – gaining some true end-to-end supply chain knowledge that we wanted to share some of the highlights with you via tweets!

Below (in no particular order) we’ve captured a variety of voices, opinions and insights to share the Top 10 Tweets from #CSCMP2014! 

Ashling @PNAshlingS

Surveys Finds Global 3PL Leaders Remain Profitable and Optimistic #3PLCEOStudy #CSCMP2014

Kevin Jones @KevinJonesCCJ

Economist Rosalyn Wilson tells #CSCMP2014 that #truckdriver shortage will rise to the leading problem for the entire economy. #trucking

Eric Kulisch @ericreports

Did u know Julia Collins, woman who won 20 consecutive Jeopardy games & $428K, has spent her career in supply chain management? #CSCMP2014

Michael Hane @TransNerd

In tight market. Customers are shifting lanes that converted to CPU back to the Mfgs. More headaches for Mfgs #CSCMP2014 #supplychain

Dave Blanchard @supplychaindave

Rosalyn Wilson: The first six months of 2014 have seen the strongest freight performance since end of recession #CSCMP2014

Chris Elliott @chris_speaks

View of #CSCMP2014 conference from 750 ft above the convention center.

Matthew Zahand ‏@MatthewZahand

"If you want to kill a new #supplychain initiative, don't explain it well." - Mark Heinrich, Rear Admiral, US Navy (ret). #CSCMP2014

Columbian Logistics ‏@ColumbianHQ

96% of shippers say 3PL's IT chops are a necessary element of the relationship. #CSCMP2014

DAT Solutions ‏@LoadBoards

Supply chain pros believe truckers no longer ‘crying wolf’ on driver shortage -  #CSCMP2014

Eric Johnson ‏@AmShipEric  

Thoughts from @cscmpconference on #Omnichannel. The next maturity step is more data:

Have a favorite tweet or topic from CSCMP 2014?  Feel free to comment below or let us know via Twitter (@Transplace). And we’ll see you next year for CSCMP 2015 September 27- 30 in San Diego!

Did you connect with peers, learn about logistics and see San Antonio’s sights at this year’s CSCMP 2014?

For more information on third party logistics and technology, visit

Getting In Front Of the Capacity Crunch

Capacity. It’s a word that’s constantly on the minds of shippers. Is there enough capacity available to handle my freight? When will capacity become tight? What strategies can we implement now to prepare for a capacity shortage?

This past winter left shipments frozen in their tracks, and you didn’t have to be in the Midwest or Northeast to experience the effects. Companies everywhere were left scrambling to secure available capacity to move their backlog of freight and many were unable to receive and make deliveries on time. While things have gone back to normal since the Polar Vortex, shippers know that capacity will once again become tight and will impact their supply chains.

Between 2004 through 2008, we experienced a significant capacity crunch as the economic downturn drove many trucking companies out of business while a shortage remained of over-the-road (OTR) truck drivers. Some relief came from the housing recession, which decreased the amount of freight being moved around the country as well as allowed a small conversion of skilled workers to become drivers do to the lack of available work in the housing industry. 

While there is currently an adequate amount of capacity to handle the amount of freight moving today, what must be realized is that weather disruptions or an uptick in the economy can quickly cause severe capacity shortages. Shippers must be proactive in implementing strategies that create an agile supply chain that can adapt to changes in the market and maintain efficient operations during future capacity shortages.

Here are a 5 tips to get ahead of the capacity crunch!

  • Expand Your Mode Mix– Look to alternate modes for shipping, such as intermodal, as to not be so reliant on over-the-road (OTR) trucks. Enhancements in rail infrastructure in the eastern part of the U.S. has improved moving freight in that area of the country. 
  • Examine Your Supply Chain Network Design – Evaluate the locations of your distribution centers and other facilities in relation to each other, your suppliers and your customers to identify if changes should be made in order to optimize your supply chain network.
  • Create Collaborative Shipping Partnerships – Look for opportunities to co-load freight with other shippers in order to share capacity and maximize the cube and weight utilization of a trailer or railcar, while also reducing transportation costs.
  • Optimize Your Shipping Structures – Examine your products and how they’re shipped to identify areas for improvement, whether that’s changing how they’re loaded or redesigning your packaging in order to fit more product onto the trailer.
  • Establish Carrier-Friendly Best Practices – By establishing carrier-friendly practices that promote driver efficiency and productivity, shippers can become a preferred shipper for carriers and be rewarded with capacity.

With all of the unpredictable factors that can impact transportation, capacity shortages are a matter of when, not if. What efforts have you taken to create an agile supply chain that can adapt to capacity challenges?

To learn more about this topic, click here.